One-anothering (OAN): A ministry Function of the Word in the Church

Introduction: This series: One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word unpacks the necessity of OAN for the growth of individual believers and the Church. It is a misunderstood function of the Church to detriment of God’s people.

I. OAN is commanded; IT IS important even vital for God-honoring individual and church life and growth. OAN is a function of the ministry of the Word.

A. More than fifty New Testament passages command various sorts of OAN activities.
B. It is part of a full-orbed ministry of the Word.

II. Ministry of the Word Defined: A proper understanding of One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word is paramount for God to protect and perfect His Church. 

A. It is presenting biblical truth in such a manner so that it is understood and applied in order to solve problems God’s way thereby living in a manner that pleases God – becoming more like Christ: 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27-28; Colossians 1:10-11.
B. It is public – preaching and teaching
C. It is private – individually through fellowship within the Church body

1. OAN is ministering the word to believers; it is a family affair.
2. It is active fellowship within the body of Christ whereby members using biblical truth in the context of a particular situation help one another change and grow in Christlikeness.
3. It is part of the church’s shepherding ministry to, by, and of all the members of the body.
4. Indeed the elders’ shepherding is most effective when each member ministers to each other and to himself.

D. Evangelism is ministering the word to unbelievers privately or publicly.

III. God’s Word is foundational as to the “why” and “how” of OAN.

A. OAN is a privilege, blessing, and a responsibility.
B. There is at least four aspects of OAN:

1. The Word: John 8:31-36
2. The individual: everyone is a OAN-er/discipler and OAN-ee/disciplee
3. Relationships: your vertical reference (to God) is expressed horizontally (to others).
4. The situation: the context/opportunity for you to present God’s truth to self/others.


A. God has called the elders to a special ministry of shepherding that is distinctive, official, and exemplary.
B. God has called each believer to His OAN ministry (the Church is His and so is its ministry).
C. A church’s OAN ministry is:

1. To be modeled after Christ’s and the elders’ OAN ministries (Hebrews 13:17)
2. Most viable and biblical when it begins with the OAN-er himself or herself (Matthew 7:1-6; 18:21-35; Galatians 6:1-5)

D. OAN is one of those areas of the Christian life in which the believer moves from being a self-pleaser to a God-pleaser. This change is necessary for him to function as a discipler/OAN-er and as a disciplee/OAN-ee.

V. More specifics of OAN

A. OAN involves a learner’s spirit:

1. Since every believer is both a OAN-er and OAN-ee, the issue is how are you doing.
2. Proper OAN requires learning God’s truth and experiencing the joy and beauty of applying it to yourself as you help others in various situations.
3. It is learning the other person so you can minister appropriate biblical truth appropriately: listen to learn to love to lead.
4. OAN requires growth in wisdom, courage, and gentleness (Ephesians 4:1-3)

B. OAN should:
1. Be instinctive and patterned after the Great Shepherd the Ultimate One Another-er (John 6:35ff and 10:11-16).
2. Begin with self: Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22; Jeremiah 17:9-10
3. Be motivated and done out of reverent awe AND gratitude for Who the Tri-personal God is and what He has done in Christ and His HS for you, others, and the Church.
4. Parallel your attitude toward God, His love, comfort, and forgiveness. Your attitude expresses your view of God, the cross, sin, your indebtedness, self, and hell (Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 7:36-50).

VI. True biblical concern for the brethren leads to OAN and vice versa: John 13:34-35

A. It is needed for individual and corporate growth.
B. It involves watchfulness, a willingness to be a blessing to each other, and weighing in by giving active assistance.
C. It includes experiencing God and His truth (Psalm 34:8) in one’s own life with a desire to minister to others.
D. OAN is Christlikeness in action. We receive (OAN-ee) and we give (OAN-er) because we have all been leveled at the foot of the cross.
E. OAN can be done rightly or wrongly. It produces either good or bad fruit.

VIII. Yet, OAN is not easy or natural: it is against who the believer was as an unbeliever.

A. Prior membership in Satan’s family and kingdom leads to a patterned lifestyle of “me-ism”: thinking, wanting, and doing that is anti-God (whole-person activity) and pro-self (Ephesians 2:1-3).
B. The believer is a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) who has been transformed (John 3:3-8) and transferred (Colossians 1:13).
C. The conflict is within and it is a moral drama within each person’s heart:

1. Galatians 5:16-18;
2. Romans 8:14; 7:14-25.

D. The Christian life is one of constant choice: a moral drama is played out within the heart of the believer.

1. Saved sinners still harbor within, and too often reflect, an anti-God mindset.
2. Little things matter: a person’s demonstrates the object of his allegiance, loyalty, and devotion in so-called little things as well as big things.
3. Words that describe matter: frustration vs anger; anxiety vs. worry;
4. But saved sinners are able to reflect Christ in thought, desire, and action.

E. One’s vertical relationship controls one’s horizontal relationship. OAN extends horizontally flowing from one’s vertical relationship with God: Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34-35

OAN: Theological considerations for the equipping of the saints

I. The Mind of Christ: OAN addresses wisdom issues (Proverbs 1:7; 3:5-8). One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word requires knowledge and wisdom in applying that knowledge.

A. Believers have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Isaiah 40:13/Romans 11:34) – they are indwelt by the HS (Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14)
B. As a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) they are able to think God’s thoughts and to function as God-pleasers (John 4:31-34; 2 Corinthians 5:9).
C. Believers are commanded to think biblically: 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 1:13.
D. They are able to develop and practice biblically-controlled thinking:

1. It is that mindset that filters all of life through a biblical grid/truth
2. It is thinking properly about God, self, others, and circumstances.

E. OAN grows out of biblically-controlled thinking (BCT): John 13:1-17; Phil 2:3-5, 6-9

1. BCT results in denying self: OAN begins and continues with denying self.
2. BCT results in pleasing God. OAN begins and continues with pleasing God.

F. Some results of the absence of the mind of Christ are given in the follo9wing passages:
1. 1 Corinthians 3:3; Galatians 5:13-15, 26; Ephesians 4:17-19; James 4:1; 1 Peter 2:2
2. They can be summarized as factions/strife, trouble, fights and quarrels, lack of maturity/growth, roller coaster of feeling living, me-ism: self-grasping and self-exaltation.

G. Assess yourself:
1. What non-negotiable biblical truths do you hold on to and practice daily especially in the so-called little things as well as big things?
2. What are the results?
3. What falsehoods do you hold to and rely on?
4. How are you changing?

II. Submission: One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word requires submission. Christ is the ultimate Submitter. 

A. Defined: It is actively, cognitively, purposefully placing oneself under authority of another for the purpose of order and function.
B. Ephesians 5:21: Believers are called to be “submitters.”

1. It is not easy or natural.
2. Submission always has a vertical reference which is expressed horizontally.
3. OAN submission is relating to one another as a fellow sinner saved by grace.
4. It flows out of a proper view of God, self, and others. John 3:30 – “I must decrease.”

C. OAN and submission are commanded; yet both are more than duty.

1. OAN submission is following the model of Christ: John 4:31-34; 13:1-17; therefore it is a privilege and blessing individually and corporately.
2. OAN is submission in action.
3. OAN requires the courage of honest humility and open approachability.
4. Pride is the enemy of OAN: Proverbs 11:2/13:10 (James 4:1); 16:18-19; 29:23

D. Everyone is, and is to function as, a OAN-er (giver) and OAN-ee (receiver).
E. OAN submission:

1. Promotes the growth of individuals and the body
2. Develops and maintains peace, purity, and unity of the body.

F. One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word requires submission on the part of all parties. Assess yourself: How do you understand submission and what does it look like in your life, at home and at church?

III. Fellowship: One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word necessitates fellowship and relationships. inherent in the term OAN is the idea of fellowship (koinonia): participating, communion, partnering, sharing, and partaking through companionship toward a common goal of becoming more like Christ: 1 John 1:3-7; Ephesians 4:1-3, 11-15; Colossians 1:28

A. Rightly understood, the term fellowship captures the essence of OAN.

1. Both flow from a new identity (in Christ) individually and corporately.
2. Both are based on relationships – vertical and horizontal.
a. Man was created a relational being, first to God and then to others.
b. God’s original design was that the vertical controls the horizontal.

B. Sin reversed man’s proper relational orientation from God to me first.
C God did not leave man in that condition.

1. He provided new relationships via regeneration and the establishment of His Church.
2. Life is relational and relationships cost.
3. Salvation cost you nothing, yet it cost Christ.
4. Life after salvation costs you everything – yourself (Matthew 10:32-38; 16:24-28; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23; 14:25-25; John 12:25-26).

D. Fellowship flows from and leads to a growing relationship with Christ and others which is manifested by truth (understanding), life (individual growth), and ministry (corporate growth).
E. Assess yourself in each of those areas: truth, life, and ministry. How are you growing?
F. False views/ideas of Christian fellowship and OAN include the defintion of fellowship to mean only:

1. Talk which is “light,” inoffensive, and non-intrusive.
2. Getting together for sharing, or unloading.
3. Action and doing something with or for someone.
4. Praying and only praying for relief.
5. Basking in one’s victories or in one’s defeats.
6. Getting on another’s case to exhort or to confront.

One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word: Further Considerations

I. Love sums up OAN, is the reason for it, and is a vital part of it: 1 John 4:7-12

A. Biblical love is:
1. Giving: Giver (God), gift (God), and givee (object of love: loved when His enemy).
2. Meeting a need: love is purposeful and constructive.
3. Using a correct standard; it fulfills the law: Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 22:37-40.
4. Giving no matter the cost; it costs, it invests; it is expensive: 2 Corinthians 5:21.
5. Rightly motivated: pleasing God for Who He is and what He has done.
6. Demonstrated in the right way or manner: John 10:12, 15, 17; 1 John 3:16-18

B. Love is foundational to OAN.

1. Both are commanded.
2. Both are relational.
3. Both are vertical and horizontal.
4. Both involve listening to learn to love to lead.

C. Loving one another is the deepest expression of OAN: 1 John 4:7-12

1. A lover is a OAN-er and vice versa.
2. A lovee is a OAN-ee and vice versa.

D. OAN is the result of being loved by God (1 John 4:8-12, 19).

1. OAN acknowledges that God is the Ultimate Lover.
2. OAN recognizes that believers are both “love-ees” (loved by God) and lovers (love God and others).

E. Believers are the most changed people, loved people, forgiven people, comforted people, and one-anothered people.

1. The command to OAN grows out of Who God is, what He has done, who you are, and what His Church is.
2. Loving one another is initiated and continued because of God’s love of/for us.
3. The command to love/OAN begins and ends with God.
4. It models Christ and the HS: John 15:13-15 and John 14:16, 26; 15:27 – coming alongside captures the essence of OAN.

II. Welcome/Accepting, and Bearing

A. Welcome/accepting principle: Romans 14:1; 15:7; Ephesians 5:1-2

1. OAN-welcome/accepting means a commitment to love another in spite of who you think he is for God’s sake and the sake of the body.
2. Differences of opinion do matter. How will you respond?
3. Differences of opinion will always exist among God’s people until perfection.
4. Your response to the person and the difference of opinion are keys.
5. Your response is, in part, related to your view of God, the other person, and the importance of biblical truth in your life.
6. Romans 14:16-19: a correct understanding of God’s kingdom sets the table for God-honoring OAN.

a. Correct theology leads to right living: Titus 1:1-2.
b. A right view of God and self results in a right view of and response to others: Matthew 7:1-6.
c. Verse 19 is a summary verse for OAN: pursuing peaceful ways and building up one another.
d. So ask: am I a peacemaker (not a peace lover) or a troublemaker? Do I love the “unlovable” and if so what is the evidence? Romans 12:17-21; 5:6-10

B. Bearing principle: Romans 15:1: We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves.

1. Holding principle of Romans 14:23 (whatever is not of saving faith is sin): sober reflection of my attitude and actions toward another with whom I disagree.
2. Bearing principle of Romans 15:1:

a. Bear what: weakness – the person/his humanness and his sinfulness in his situation
b. Bear how: to take up and hold, to strengthen, to support, and to carry another
c. It was modeled by Christ: Hebrews 4:15-16
e. It is solution-oriented: be as concerned about the weaker/less mature brother as yourself.
f. How do you decide the weaker and stronger brother?
g. The result is restoration of the person into the body – functionality: Galatians 6:2, 5

III. Family Affection

A. OAN is a family affair:

1. Hearing the Word of God
2. Applying the Word of God
3. Inside-out-ness of the Christian life (Proverb 4:23): Root and fruit, beliefs and behavior, attitudes and actions.

B. A series of passages:
• Romans 12:9-13: life in the Father’s house is not without struggles. Warmth and humility are keys to victory.
• 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; 5:11, 15: OAN is taught, learned, developed, and continued.
• Hebrews 10:24-25; 13:1: continual OAN-family affection is one of God’s antidotes for separation from the church.
• 1 Peter 1:22: a deepening concern for fellow pilgrims is a response to a changed and changing heart.
• 1 Peter 3:8: Harmonious family living fulfils John 13:34-35 and Matthew 5:13-16
• 2 Peter 1:5-10: working out one’s salvation includes the fruit of OAN (v.7).

Biblical Encouragement As A Vital Feature of OAN

I. What is Biblical Encouragement? One-Anothering: A Function of the Ministry of the Word involves and requires the gift of encouragement. 

A. The word (parakaleo) means coming alongside of another to strengthen and establish; to assist, to aid, to help; and to comfort (see VI) .

1. Most translations (80%) use urge, encourage, beg, plead, and comfort.
2. Biblical encouragement takes different forms.

B. Defined: biblical encouragement is being strengthened in the inner man in order to function by properly calling to mind and applying appropriate biblical principles.

1. It is a whole-person activity (thought, desire, and action) with whole-person results.
2. It is purposeful: it helps prepare for action AND continue in that action.
3. One goal of biblical encouragement is to help the person think, desire, and act biblically especially when it may be hard to do thereby becoming more like Christ.

C. Who needs it?

1. Everyone needs biblical encouragement. No one needs non-BE.
2. How about the excuse maker or someone trying to avoid responsibility?
3. The Bible emphasizes someone who is about to engage in a task: Moses to Joshua: Deuteronomy 1:38; God to Paul (Acts 23:11; 27:22)
4. The “small-souled”: 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – those who fear/worry/fret – the issue is one of control and the4 choice of re3lying on God or self. James 1:8; 4:8: doubter.

D. The culture’s view contrasts the Bible’s view of encouragement. Consider these tenets:
1. A person is his feelings – his inner self: “get to your feelings.”
2. Feelings, both “good” and “bad” ones, are to be your guide.
3. People are “needy” – they need to be lifted up – make them feel better first and most.
4. People are victims to circumstances and others. They are not responsible. Hold them to a different standard; give them labels and treatment including and psychotherapy.
5. Relief/feeling better is what life is all about so get it. The goal in life is happiness and God’s goal which is the believer’s holiness; too often, Christians don’t understand the choice and choose feelings.

E. Rather, life is the context for the believer to glorify, to thank, and to please God.
F. OAN helps fulfill the truth captured by the first question found in the Westminster SCQ #1: the chief end of man (he was created for this purpose) to glorify God and enjoy Him forever: (Psalm 73:25-26; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Revelation 4:11).

II. Just as everyone is a OAN-er and OAN-ee, everyone is an encourager/confronter and an encourage-ee/comfort-ee.
A. The source of biblical encouragement in OAN is the Word of God applied by HS through brothers and sisters: Romans 15:4-5, 13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

1. God, the Giver/Supplier, is the God of all things including encouragement.
2. His promises are recorded in the Word: note the parallel with hope.
a. Feelings, experience, reasoning say God is not trustworthy.
b. Which will you believe?
c. How will you prove faithful and trustworthy? God has demonstrated and continues to demonstrate His trustworthiness. How about you?
3. You receive from and return to God by OAN – Romans 12:1-2.

B. The focus of biblical encouragement is giving something that a person lacks at a particular moment(s) (note: parallel with love). It requires a relationship and wisdom.

C. Remember the experiential aspect of the Christian life: Psalm 34:8; Philippians 3:7-11.

III. The importance of biblical encouragement

A. Its importance is proven by the fact that Scripture commands it, God provides encouragers, God provides instruction for it, and God provides the Ultimate Encouragers – Jesus Christ and HS: John 14:16; 15:26; 16:26.

B. We live in a fallen state and are not fully perfected.

C. Since no believer has arrived, there is:
1. A necessity for spiritual inventory: Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22; Jeremiah 17:9-10
2. A conflict within – a moral drama – which involves choice: Joshua 24:14-15; Galatians 5:16-18
3. The issue of whose wisdom: trust in the Lord/fear of the Lord or trust in self/fear of man: Proverbs 3:5-8.
4. Examples of inner-man strengthening: 1 Samuel 30:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3; Philippians 4:13.What biblical principles are you to apply in your present situation?

IV. Biblical encouragement is not:

A. Assuming: it is gathering data with an inside-out focus (Proverbs 4:23).
B. Telling: it may involve teaching.
C. Basing what you say to someone on his or your experience, reasoning, or feelings: it involves learning the person in his context in order to “serve up” the Word.
D. A pep talk: it may include exhortation.
E. Coming at someone as his policeman or HS: it is as a fellow sinner.

V. Biblical encouragement involves:

A. Discernment: one approach does not fit all.
B. Commitment: to God’s truth for self and the other person
C. Courage: to honor God by speaking the truth in love
D. Verticality: the Triune God is the key Person with the goal of honoring Him.
E. Focusing not only on the person’s fruit but also the root (the heart motivation) to the degree that the person will “let” you.

VI. Biblical encouragement can take many forms:

A. Exhortation: 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Romans 12:1
B. Comfort: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: personal knowledge of God and His comfort so you convey God’s comfort in the right manner
C. Stirring up: Hebrews10:24-25 – determine how to be a Godly “burr under the saddle.”
D. Counseling: Romans15:14; Colossians 1:28; 3:16; Galatians 6:1-5
E. Forgiveness: Mark 11:23-25; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-13: a proper understanding and application of forgiveness is essential for OAN
F. Hospitality: Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9-10
G. Intimacy: a family atmosphere and affection: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:26

VII. Assessment

A. What kind of encourager are you? Give reasons for your answer.
B. What kind of encourage-ee are you? Give reasons for your answer.
C. Follow this principle: give credit when you can, challenge when it is needed, and confront when you must.