Jesus4King.net – The Spiritual Revolution

2008-02-19

Full stewardship taught v. Don’t get too personal

What is New Testament Christianity all about? The four gospel accounts tell the story of Jesus; Acts tells the story of the apostles He sent out; and the rest of the New Testament are letters of instruction to Christians. What kind of instructions are in those letters?

It’s all about relationships. First, our relationship with God; second, our relationships with people. It teaches us about our stewardships here on earth, including: how to govern ourselves; how to have a successful family; our relationship with civil government; our responsibilities within the church; plus, work ethic, financial stewardship, time management, and more.

Full stewardship is best taught through personal example and timely counsel, which requires the authentic relationships described in the New Testament. The first century church was continually devoted to fellowship (Acts 2:42) because making disciples is a hands-on job. Jesus demonstrated it for us. Paul demonstrated it for us. This is needed today as much as ever!

Christians should be involved in the daily lives of each other, and those who are more mature should help others to mature in all of the areas mentioned above. People helping people. Families discipling families. This is how the meat of the word can really get taught. The milk of the word, The Good Story, is often preached publicly.

Paul reminded the elders of the church at Ephesus, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ… Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God… Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” (Acts 20:18-31)

Christianity is personal. Organized religion is not.

Organized religion shrinks from declaring anything that is not profitable for the organization, and admonishing each one with tears isn’t usually a crowd-pleaser. They can’t afford to admonish people because they usually have mortgage payments and a board of directors. So they find a niche and tell people what they want to hear. Some even conduct surveys to find out what people want to hear. Read 2 Timothy 4:1-4 if you want to see Paul’s version of this warning.

When I share with people the New Testament’s description of an assembly (Each one has a psalm, a teaching, etc. – 1 Cor 14:26-40), those accustomed to organized religion often get a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on their face and they instantly form various mistaken assumptions.

Organized religion thinks that the clergy/professionals are supposed to put on a show for the laity/customers at specified times, and that Christianity revolves around these shows. This distortion keeps them in business, but it’s far different from Biblical Christianity.

Real Christian leaders aren’t in show business. They are personally involved in people’s lives to help them mature in all of the areas mentioned above. They lead by example and admonish each Christian, equipping them for unique works of service. Disciples start as spiritual children, but they are not to remain that way. Healthy development results in mature saints who can not only participate in the assembly, but who also use godly wisdom in all of their stewardships.

The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11)

Our relationship with God comes first. Our relationship with one another, second. God gave us each a gift to serve one another, and we are to put our gift to work. Two examples of gifts are speaking and serving. Romans 12 lists seven different gifts. Leaders should help you discover and develop your gift. Nonetheless, each one is responsible for his stewardship.

The formal, hands-off approach can never equip the saints as well as the informal, discipling approach. Organized religion produces perpetual immaturity; the laity are always dependent upon the clergy. Power-hungry people like it that way.

You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matt 20:25-28)

 

Next up: Collections as needed v. Collections regardless of needs >>>

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2007-12-26

Meet together v. Divide into age groups

Picture a big family get-together where everyone is happy to encourage others. This is what church is supposed to be like and Scripture teaches us how. The church we’re talking about is not organized religion. That’s a formal ceremony rather than a joyful family gathering. Formal ceremonies and children don’t go well together.

This is part of a discussion about the contrast between organized religion and the highly relational home churches described in the New Testament.

In our next discussion, we’ll be talking about the differences between meeting in homes and meeting in buildings; totally different atmospheres. Here we’re talking about meeting together v. dividing into age groups. Our last discussion was about parents teaching children v. anyone but parents teaching children. These topics are all closely related.

The Bible says the church is a family that is to be devoted to loving one another just as Jesus does. In a highly relational home church, all age groups learn how to respectfully interact with and relate to all age groups.

Related Scriptures

Deuteronomy 31:12 says that men, women, and children were to assemble to hear the word of the Lord. Most children understand a lot more than many people give them credit for.

According to Psalm 127:3, “Children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward.” This idea has been aggressively attacked. It is common for people to sacrifice their children for reasons ranging from convenience to careers. Add some disastrous parenting philosophies and you have a recipe for children being regarded as nothing but a nuisance.

Luke 18:15-16 tells how the apostles rebuked parents who were bringing their babies to Jesus. The apostles were accustomed to organized religion. But Jesus rebuked them, saying, “Permit the children to come… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. (Luke 11:17)

Dividing Into Age Groups

The child evangelism Sunday school movement is only a couple hundred years old. A natural extension of organized religion, it has evolved into youth groups, camps, children’s church, vacation Bible school, etc.; and is commonly used as a marketing ploy.

Youth programs are often entertainment driven. God says that bribes corrupt the heart (See Ecc 7:7), and yet bribing has commonly been used to increase attendance, compliance, and participation in class activities.

Competing in today’s religious climate is a tough business. Maintaining manmade traditions has often taken highest precedence. Desperate to find victims willing to teach a group of today’s untrained children, guilt has been used and immature and otherwise undesirable teachers have been used. Those who’ve had their arm twisted to get them to take their turn don’t make very desirable teachers, and neither do child predators who can easily fill the void left by parents.

Recipe For Disaster

Organized religion has invented a new entry level position that’s often called youth minister. Youth ministers are typically young and responsible for entertaining hormone-raging teenagers. Has your town, like so many others, been touched by one of the almost inevitable scandals?

After considering just these few points, it’s not surprising that so many children raised in organized religion reject it when they become adults. They’re Biblically illiterate. They haven’t learned to interact well with other age groups. They’ve been entertained all their life, and entertainment is what they continue to pursue.

What’s More Biblical?

Let me remind you of the reality that everyone’s eternity is at stake. Christians are supposed to teach the whole message of this life; everything pertaining to life and godliness. Parents have been entrusted with a stewardship for which they will be judged. Children grow up and make decisions based largely on their upbringing.

Why don’t we do what God says and teach parents to raise their children in the instruction and discipline of the Lord? Offering all of these unscriptural youth programs enables parents to think that someone else is doing their job so they can continue to neglect their parental responsibilities.

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I have just scratched the surface of this issue. What else should be considered?

 

Next up: Meet in homes v. Maintain a building >>>

2007-12-11

Parents teach children v. Anyone but parents teach children

There are myriads of theories about education. How are parents to sort through the options and make the best decision for each of their children? I felt a little overwhelmed when approaching this subject with my wife.

We did a lot of consultation and investigation, and asked God for lots of wisdom. We found that the best way to cut through the confusion was to start with a foundation based on the word of God. We believe that the One Who made us knows best.

So what does God’s word say about education? Proverbs has a lot to say about it, but the following two passages, one out of the Old Testament and one out of the New Testament, really summarize the Bible’s teaching on education. As you read them, ask the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ questions:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deut 6:4-7)

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:4)

Education is a private enterprise. Fathers will answer to God for the stewardship they have been given.

Let’s Come At This from a Different Angle

You may recognize this line, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (The Declaration of Independence)

Did these guys know what they were talking about? Does God endow all men with certain unalienable rights? Show me the B.C.V. (book, chapter, and verse) for human rights.

The commandment, “Don’t murder,” means that your neighbor is not supposed to murder you. It grants you the right to life. The commandment, “Don’t steal,” means that your neighbor is not supposed to steal from you. It grants you the right to enjoy the fruit of your labor, which is the difference between a slave and a free man.

Any man or group of men who violate your rights will answer to God. On earth, civil government is supposed to protect your rights, not assist those who would violate them. Is there a difference between someone who steals the fruit of your labor and someone who’s elected to steal the fruit of your labor? In other words, if criminals gang up on you, does that make it right? What if they say it’s for the children?

Someone once said that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. Democracy is rule by majority. It is a temporary form of government, lasting only until theft by vote leaves nothing else to take.

The Founding Fathers of the U.S.A. understood that rights come from God and cannot be legitimately taken away by the majority. So they founded a republic, which is rule by law (has nothing to do with political parties).

There is no area of life that is exempt from the authority of the word of God!

No man has the right to steal from you to feed or educate his family. He has a responsibility to work and provide. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If a man won’t work, neither let him eat. (2 Thess 3:10) If anyone doesn’t provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim 5:8) This is a salvation issue.

Those who profess to be Christians should teach the whole counsel of God; everything pertaining to life and godliness. How can we be silent about an area as important as the education of children? Unfortunately, this has been the case.

As a result, our society has become saturated with deceptive philosophies. Parents have been convinced to surrender responsibility for their children’s education. Now, anyone but parents teach children! Many anti-Christian ideas are taught, and it’s often paid for by stealing the fruits of our labor!

I pay for the home education of my children and I pay for the education of my neighbors children (public education costs ten times as much per child). At the same time, I am happy to volunteer to help my neighbors home educate their children.

“Restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)

 

Next up: Meet together v. Divide into age groups >>>

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