Jesus4King.net – The Spiritual Revolution

2007-10-23

Mutual edification v. Clergy/Laity

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (1 Thess 5:11-14)

There are different parts of the body, but none who are spiritual are exempt from admonishing and encouraging one another. The presence of elders or evangelists shouldn’t prevent the participation of others. Instead, mature Christians should be equipping the saints to speak the truth in love.

Didn’t we a hire someone to do that job?

If you asked most people what a preacher does, they’d likely say he’s someone who lectures from a pulpit. This couldn’t be further from the Biblical pattern! Preachers in the Bible did not hide behind a lectern:

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. (Acts 20:20-21)

Public proclamation happens out in public. The example of a church building setting is found nowhere in the New Testament. House to house needs no explanation.

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 20:31)

Evangelists start new works and help immature Christians to mature. Then, if they’re going to continue doing the work of an evangelist, they move on. They participate in an established assembly just like every other Christian does. How does the Bible describe a Christian assembly?

When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching… so that all may learn and all may be exhorted… recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment… (See 1 Cor 14:26-40)

Contrast the Bible’s description of mutual edification with the clergy/laity format. Webster’s dictionary defines clergy as a person ordained for religious service: ministers, priests, rabbis, etc; and laity as all the people not included among the clergy. As we’ve previously discussed, every person who has been baptized into Christ was ordained for religious service. We are all sanctified (See 1 Cor 6:11). Every Christian is a priest and a minister.

In the clergy/laity system, does each one have a psalm or a teaching? Nope. The clergy – whether he’s called a pastor, preacher, etc. – is expected to stand and deliver every week. This format has severe limitations that create perpetual immaturity:

  1. The gifts of the members are largely undeveloped
  2. Most members miss the growth experience of edifying others
  3. There’s different teaching and learning styles
    1. One speaker edifies some
    2. Multiple speakers edify many

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Heb 10:23-25)

Considering how to stimulate and encourage one another is a mindset that we are to develop.  Laity never do because they consider that to be someone else’s job. They are always dependant on someone else to do their religious thinking.

And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Rom 15:14)

Paul had confidence in the disciple’s ability to admonish one another. Clergy fail to demonstrate this same confidence. What would we do without them lording it over the faith?

Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb 3:13)

 

Next up: Each one has a psalm v. Designated song leaders >>>

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2007-10-16

Members gifts developed v. Members do no more than sit in a pew

The priesthood of all believers is a New Testament concept that is rarely emphasized by those whose paycheck and social status depends on unbiblical perceptions. These are usually the ones who are most aggressively opposed to the spiritual revolution.

We are calling religious leaders to account for consuming people’s focus, efforts, and resources with the traditions of men. Are they spending your money, time, and energy to build their organization? Do you really want your resources squandered building the legacy of a man or a sect?

Organized religion fails to help people develop their gifts and become godly leaders because if it did it would go out of business. Instead, they want you to build their organization. But the result of this blatant self-inerest is a widespread shortage of ‘ministers’ in every so-called Christian denomination.

There is a spiritual revolution underway because many people want to make a difference, but are ill-prepared because of the pervading leave-it-to-the-experts mentality. This mentality impacts the whole society in a lot of negative ways, with families probably hurt the most.

If you’re new to this discussion, we’re talking about dropping extra-Biblical baggage in order to be more effective and enjoy God’s best. We are not advocating keeping some perfect pattern as a way to earn our way to heaven, nor are we saying that traditions are an automatic condemnation.

We encourage individuals and families to take responsibility for their spiritual growth rather than depending on ‘professionals’. We help volunteers develop their gifts to lead a highly relational home church where they help themselves and others to grow spiritually and stay engaged and involved in meaningful work.

The priesthood of all believers is a New Testament concept found in 1 Peter 2:4-10, where we are called a holy and royal priesthood. A couple of chapters later Peter tells us:

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 4:10-11)

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.” (Eph 4:7-8)

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. (Rom 12:6) Read the whole chapter (Romans 12) for help discovering your gift.

Christ gave each member of the body a special gift of grace, and each one is exhorted to put it to work as a good steward. How can we do that if our Christianity consists of sitting in a pew listening to someone entertain us or tell us what to think?

Unfortunately, this is another casualty of the broken system so many know as church. People fled to America for religious freedom. All the denominations followed. After several hundred years and the addition of many more sects, they all look pretty much the same.

The typical churchgoer might report, “They pretend to preach the truth and we pretend to listen.” It’s a ridiculous charade.

Here’s how The Good Story describes first century Christianity: Day by day, from house to house, they met for fellowship, prayer, studying the word of God, and on the first day of the week they gathered to eat the Lord’s Supper. This was like a family get-together in someone’s home to enjoy a love feast, and each had a psalm, a teaching, an exhortation.

What’s your gift? Wouldn’t it be nice to get into an environment where it can best be developed?

 

Next up: Mutual edification v. Clergy/laity >>>

2007-10-13

You’ve got to hear this!

Filed under: Bible, Christianity, church, Faith, God, History, Jesus, Religion, Spirituality — Jesus 4 King @ 10:20

Free MP3 Audio Book DownloadThis is the good story that was told by the first century church and recorded in the book of Acts. Plus, it includes the rest of the story.

2007-10-09

Saints build the body in unity v. That’s why we hired a preacher

Did Jesus and Paul not like unity? Controversy followed them everywhere! Didn’t they know that if they quit preaching, the truth the adversary would likely have left them alone?

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:4-6)

If you’re new to this discussion, we’re talking about dropping extra-Biblical baggage in order to be more effective and enjoy God’s best. We are not advocating keeping some perfect pattern as a way to earn our way to heaven, nor are we saying that traditions are an automatic condemnation.

An environment that promotes personal and collective growth is one where people are free to try and free to fail. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. A body at rest tends to stay at rest.

When all of the parts of the body are set in motion and they are not overly criticized when they make mistakes, their confidence grows and they begin to take all kinds of initiative. Ten people coming up with ideas and pushing them is infinitely more productive than one person pushing ten people to carry out his ideas.

When managing people, whether children, adults, or yourself, it is wise to know that you normally only get what you expect. Low expectations produce low results. High expectations, in spite of some inevitable disappointments, produce much better long-term results.

Expectations largely determine the quality of fruit that will be produced by the body. These expectations should not be arbitrary, but the question should be asked, “Whose body is this and what are His expectations?” With this in mind, here’s a quick overview of Ephesians chapter four about how God expects the saints to build the body in unity:

First, we are implored to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. This is defined as walking with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, and being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The saints are to be equipped the for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

We are to lay aside our former manner of life, be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. The key for all of this to work is the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:6-8)

Did you receive the Holy Spirit?

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Gal 5:13-16)

If the saints do not learn how to walk by the Spirit, they will carry out the desire of the flesh. God’s principles of transformation and freedom in Christ must be understood and taught. Otherwise the saints will be a bunch of immature, nitpicking, backbiting pew-packers who need a resident babysitter.

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1 Cor 3:1-3) For this reason I have sent to you Timothy… (1 Cor 4:17)

God expects us to send preachers out to start new churches and help immature churches. If this is not even on our roadmap, we will never arrive. As long as a church has the expectation of always having a ‘minister’ to build the body, the saints will never develop the maturity God expects.

Immature Christians are unable to build the body in unity. Worse are fleshly minded church-goers who have no expectation of growing up to be body builders. They hire a preacher to do that job. These expectations produce people who are devoid of the Spirit and incapable of walking in a worthy manner.

Expecting Christians to warm the seat of a pew once or twice a week is a long ways away from expecting them to take up their cross daily and follow Jesus. He sacrificed everything as an example for us to follow. Woe to those who claim to love God, but deny Him with their lives; hypocrites who sprinkle a little Bible on their manmade traditions. The name of Christ is smeared because of them.

Why not join the spiritual revolution and experience unity as a result of transformation and camaraderie?

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! (Ps 133:1)

 

Next up: Members gifts developed v. Members do no more than sit in a pew >>>

2007-10-01

Intentional evangelism v. Visitors might accidentally learn what they need

What’s your plan for reaching the 1/3 of the world’s population that hasn’t heard the gospel in this generation?

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Matt 9:37-38)

If you’re new to this discussion, it’s about dropping baggage that hinders us from finishing the task in this generation.

If you had prior knowledge of the September 11th terrorist attacks on America and you failed to warn anyone, it wouldn’t matter what personality type you have or what part of the body you are, shameful coward would be too nice a description for you. There is an inferno far worse than the collapsing Twin Towers that awaits everyone whose sin has separated them from God.

We have an awesome message of good news to tell people after we tell them the bad news. No one has to die in their sins! Who have you withheld the good news from? If you knew enough to become a Christian, you know enough to tell others how to become a Christian.

It’s really a question of whether or not you believe Jesus, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

If Jesus were traveling city to city and He came to your city, what would His message be? Would He call for the city to repent and warn of the consequences for any city that didn’t repent? (See Mat 4:17, 23; 11:20-24) Or would He set up shop, put a sign out front, and begin offering programs for youth in hopes their parents would visit and drop some money in the plate to pay for His shop? Let the children come, but it’s adults (See Num 14:26-35; Deut 1:34-39) who are accountable to God!

The point is that God’s interest is not in getting enough customers to run a profitable and successful business. He is declaring that everyone should repent or be judged (See Acts 17:30-31). So regardless of the fact that most everyone will not heed the warning, and some will violently reject it, our job is not to build a business but to announce the terms of surrender to everyone.

The Apostle Paul’s example in the New Testament is second only to Jesus’ (See 1 Cor 11:1). How would he approach your city? Read through the book of Acts and see. He would probably think he was doing something wrong if the community and religious leaders weren’t in an uproar a short time after his arrival. Here is a summary of Paul’s approach:

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. (Acts 20:20)

Hoping a visitor might stumble into your assembly and accidentally learn what they need is insufficient for the task. The assembly of the saints is not even for the lost. It’s a rah-rah session to stimulate each other to love and good deeds so we can go out and light the world. Jesus said to go make disciples of all nations (See Mat 28:18-20).

The fact that most people learn best through small-group discussion, rather than lecture-style teaching, further demonstrates the inadequacy of the tradition of ‘inviting people to church’ as a means of evangelism. It’s not that nobody has ever been won with this approach, but could we do much better if the saints were equipped to take the message to the world like we read about in the New Testament?

I mourn over the so-called church of Christ that is oblivious to the spiritual war going on and the 150,000 people that die every day; professed Christians who are more interested in playing church than snatching souls out of the fire. What will be the outcome for those who sit around every week tickling each other’s ears or condemning everyone who doesn’t keep their manmade traditions, but who refuse to lay down their life for everyone who is oppressed by the devil?

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Col 1:28-29)

Did you receive the Holy Spirit?

How many people where you live don’t know the truth? Do you have any plans for reaching them in your generation? How are those plans progressing? What measurable progress has been made in the last year? Are you planning to send out any preachers or, better yet, evangelism teams? When? How will they be supported? Do you have timeframes set for any of these goals? A goal without a deadline is a dream.

Many do no more than talk about the task, and many more don’t even do that. I suggest we walk the talk and put our money where our mouth is. Praise God that many are doing so, but many more are needed. There are many ways to evangelize; just make sure you are evangelizing. Here is a practical strategy, “Plan, do, review.” Plan your work. Work your plan. Review the results. Repeat.

 

Next up: Saints build the body in unity v. That’s why we hired a preacher >>>

2007-09-24

Churches send preachers out v. Churches hire preachers to serve them

Which is worse: dealing with dirty diapers or potty training? I don’t like either. Maybe a better question would be: what drives my wife to keep wanting more kids? A mother’s love has some real similarities to the love that a Bible preacher has to have. Big kids aren’t a lot different from little kids, they’re just better at coming up with excuses for not taking responsibility.

Preachers have the never-ending job of:

  1. Making disciples
  2. Helping new or otherwise immature churches to mature

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. It’s never-ending because if the job is getting done, there will always be new disciples.

I started this discussion to explore why recent generations have not gotten the job done and how we can change that. This issue is first on the list because I believe it is one of the biggest. Why is it that although 1/3 of the world’s population needs to hear the gospel and 150,000 people die every day, we are so lazy that we hire ‘professionals’ to serve us rather than serving ourselves and sending capable Christians to those who need to hear?

In the Bible, preachers are also called evangelists and apostles (one sent out). Let’s briefly review the Bible’s description of their work:

The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas off to Antioch where, “a large number who believed turned to the Lord.” (See Acts 11:19-26) Antioch was immature because it was a new church.

The church at Antioch rapidly matured and they soon sent Barnabas and Paul out to make disciples elsewhere. (See Acts 13-14) Barnabas and Paul planted a number of churches, spent a few months with each, and then left them to serve themselves.

The rapidness of these church plants was made possible by Jewish converts who were already grounded in Scripture and who were soon able to send out a man named Timothy, who from childhood had known the sacred writings (See 2 Tim 1:5; 3:15), to go preach with Paul (See Acts 16:1-3).

A brisk church planting movement was spearheaded by Paul’s evangelism team (See Acts 16-18). This is the primary example of church planting recorded by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Three years is the longest time the Scripture records Paul spending in one place (See Acts 20:31). In some cases he left team members to help new churches for a while.

Paul also revisited most of the churches that he planted to strengthen them and appoint elders. Evangelists from his team were also sent to churches for this purpose (See 1 Cor 3:1; 4:17; Tit 1:5). The sooner churches mature, the sooner they can send preachers out to a lost and dying world.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:14-15)

There’s not much to say about churches hiring preachers to serve them, because there is no example of this in Scripture. Somebody would be rich if they had patented the invented position known as ‘pulpit minister’, especially if they could collect a patent fee regardless of the title used to label this unscriptural position.

In all seriousness, we need to “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matt 9:38) Every church should keep moving in the Biblical direction of self-sufficiency and have the goal of sending apostles/evangelists/preachers out to make disciples and help new or otherwise immature churches to mature.

Some argue that first century churches could mature more rapidly because they had the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I would counter with 1 Cor 13:8-13, and point out that the gifts are called childish (immature). The gifts of knowledge and prophecy were replaced with the New Testament, which is widely available and is neither long nor incomprehensible. Childish things are inferior to the completed word of God in producing maturity.

Lord willing, I will point out in future discussions that teaching disciples to take responsibility for their own and for each other’s spiritual growth is far more efficient than imposing the trappings of manmade religion. Traditions of men hinder the maturity of disciples and the spread of the gospel.

 

Next up: Intentional evangelism v. Visitors might accidentally learn what they need >>>

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