Teaching, prayer, and doing
As we read the Bible or hear sermons that are biblically based we are instructed to live
the Christian life and do good works.
Christianity can be much like eating food for our nourishment. Without a well balanced
diet, a good attitude and exercise one can become sick and anemic very quickly. With our
physical food we can see the affects easily on our body but this is not always so
Spiritually. Our growth should be bringing us forward to finding our calling in Christ to
know his specific will for our lives
Today it is a rare person that pursues more education pushing out into the waters of
ministry on their own. It's not easy to sail in uncharted waters or where few want to go,
especially with so much resistance today. It's even more rare for someone to be prepared to
go out into the battlefield to head off the enemy and save souls. Whether we go off into
the mission field or stay here and work through the Church, we should always be ready to
give an answer for the faith we possess.
Today life just isn’t the same anymore. What was once simple has become complicated.
We once had more time to choose what we want to do in our day now we barely have time to
get what is necessary done. Despite our circumstances we have to find time to be with the
Lord, to be instructed by the word, pray and exhibit our good works. I don’t think anyone
would question that this needs to be seen in society now more than ever before.
There are so many issues today. Feeding the hungry, helping the homeless, euthanasia,
abortion, suicide, divorce, cults. We are surrounded by a flood of anti-Christian teachings
and world views competing, battling for the hearts and minds of everyone on planet earth.
At the same time there has not been more opportunity to be part of a ministry and be useful
in helping to spread the message of Christ. We have no excuse, as we see the lateness of
the hour and the people that we are surrounded with that will die and go to an eternity
Its unfortunate but what had started as a good idea for Christian TV has become church
for many people. Instead of becoming involved and being personally used of the Lord, they
watch the preachers and give their money and that’s their service done to the Lord.
Promises of Prosperity, success, breakthrough turnarounds for the family that is split. You
just need to receive them, put your hand out and touch your TV, etc.. It's all done to
be received from your living room, so don’t have to move. From what we see and hear on
Christian TV one would think the church has never been in better shape, were fit ready to
roll anywhere as evangelistic servants, right? Not quite, the church has never wobbled more
than she is today and its all because we’ve bought into the false advertising of the
Christian vendors. The church is getting ripped off because huge amounts of money that
should go to the local congregations and the local ministries and being sent to TV
evangelists who live extravagant lifestyles and have to pay enormous amounts to air time
Those who are supposedly gifted do all the work and the audience supports them. And why
not with the promised blessing of gain they can give to their hearts content and sit at
home and be blessed. But this is not the way the Lord would have it, he wants everyone to
be involved. He gave every believer the Holy Spirit, and with him comes gifts and talents
that we are responsible to find and use. If this was done the Church would have the power,
the needs would be met and we would not be so anemic in society and the religious world.
How do I know this? Its been said the cults are the unpaid bill of the church. If they are
growing then we are not doing our job spiritually. If we were doing our job, and had more
watchmen euthanasia bills would not be passed. Abortion would not have killed off the next
generation. But this is the price we pay when a few do the job of the many. With a war of
values broken out on all fronts who can watch and do everything, some things have to slip
Jesus’ prayer of sending workers into the harvest field is more needed today than
ever. The fact is that there are less people hearing the gospel message than a few years
ago because of the population growth and anti Christian sentiment. Despite all the efforts
of TV Christianity.
Organizing efforts to reach the people masses of the world have been successful in some
ways but I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said as you go make
disciples from all nations. Many efforts have broken ground where there was no mention of
the gospel previously, but there is still the teaching element that has been neglected. If
the Church at home is not taught correctly to know the scriptures, they will not be
effective to others.
When we look at the sermons that brought thousands into the church in the book of acts
they cut, they convicted, and they convinced people to be committed.
Revivals, like those of Charles Finney, Jonathan Edwards, D. L. Moody, even the famous
Pentecostal Revival at Azusa Street at the turn of the century, all revivals resulted from the powerful
preaching of God's truth, a crushing awareness of sin resulting in true repentance and
growing obedience to God's Word. Even one does not agree with some of these names one
cannot help but see the results were from hands on ministry, people with people.
Jesus made Christianity a hands on experience for all to participate in. He didn’t
have a certain group of people as priests as in Judaism. Because we have been reconciled to
Christ we now are ambassadors to reconcile others we are all automatically put in a
priesthood. In the Old Testament
1 Pet. 2:5 “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a
holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
All Christians are part of the priesthood we all offer up sacrifices to God which is
our service to him, Heb.13:15. As the priests in the Old Testament offered incense and
offerings each morning and evening to God on the altar of incense as believers we offer the
incense of praise, prayer and thanksgiving to God. We become a living sacrifice in service
to our God.
1 Pet. 2:9-10 Peter finishes by explaining the result of God’s making all believers
priests. “ But ye are a chosen generation, a Royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of
his own, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness
into his marvelous light; Who in time past were not a people but are now the people of God;
who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
All believers are Holy to God, set apart for his service. As Israel is God’s
chosen people according to His covenant made to Abraham in the Old Testament
Paul writes of his ministry to the believers in Rome, Rom. 15:15-16 “ That I should be
the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the
offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
Here Paul describes himself as a priest (a minister) who serves through the preaching
of the gospel. This is the calling of all believers to affect those around them with
the gospel message.
Today we have a Nicolaity meaning those put in authority to rule. That a certain
individual or group is given greater prominence over others. Many
want preeminence they want you to be there disciple, to depend on them for teaching, and to
give to them.
2 Jn.4 nothing please John more, as well as the Lord, than to see his children walk in
the truth. That is when we are effective. If one does not practice their Christian life
their testimony suffers whether someone knows it or not. Theology should turn into practice
or it has not affected the heart. How can we have convictions without our whole being
involved. Our goal should be that we are to Love the lord our God with all our heart, soul,
mind and strength, our whole being. Anything less than this can mean that we are loving
something else in his place.
The basics of Christianity means their are core beliefs that unite us in Christ.
God the uncreated, Christ the eternal God there is one God and 3 distinct persons who exist
simultaneously as the One God. the virgin conception , the incarnation, the sinfulness of
man and the need of a savior, the new birth, the Gospel death burial and physical
resurrection, the 2nd coming, baptism, Christ the eternal mediator and priest, the
infallibility and inerrancy of scripture, the giftings, judgment and rewards to the
believers. These are a few of the essentials that are clarified in the Scriptures that all
should be consistently taught in church so we are prepared and can teach others.
The NT exhorts people to right doctrine twice as much as right conduct, because if you
have right doctrine you will have correct practice. Right doctrine means you will practice
your Christianity in a practical way. When the gifts are practiced and used correctly you
will have true prophecy. There will be order in the Church and people will be built up for
the work of the ministry. Disorder in using the gifts results in teaching people contrary
to sound doctrine.
Many want the gifts of miracles healing, tongues and prophecy which can bring attention
to oneself. The gift of teaching is mentioned and practiced more than any other but is more
neglected. The practical gifts are the ones that really bring compassion and order. Such as
helps, mercy, encouragement, administration are the least desired but the most needed. But
gifts themselves are not the answer, Jesus is.
When leaders in the church teach wrong and the other leaders allow it, the sheep will
follow. Whole sections of the church have left what they once practiced as Biblical
doctrines for something new and improved. The same is offered in the world for advertising
their products, that was last years now this is the improved updated version. Buy it, its
on sale now!
We are not to be following a man. If we do we will end up like every cult in history We
are to be followers of Christ and his revealed word, not what he has not revealed. If God
is silent on an issue we should not be listening to people speaking sermons or writing
books on this. Gnostics have always been inside the church and today we have more than
our share of Gnostic revelators who have influenced whole segments of the Church into
Didn’t Jesus say In John 14:12,” you will do even greater works than these, because
I am going to the Father.” We can do greater works, as in more abundance, because the
ministry of the Spirit is not limited to one only, but now has many. Greater is in
reference to number not in quality. The apostles nor we can never do a greater work
(miracle) than the resurrection or make the blind see. Notice he does not say greater
miracles but works. What is greater is the ability to bring someone in a direct contact
with Christ and have the holy Spirit live in them, something that was not offered at the
time he said this. Can you think of a greater miracle for someone than to bring them into
relationship with the Lords and have the assurance of eternal life? I can't.
Many want bigger-bigger is better, isn’t it? Every time the Lord started to do a
work he used a few, not the many. Noah, Abraham, Gideon, the prophets were always the
minority. He looked for quality not quantity the increase was left to him. He didn’t look
for the hidden potential in people, but looked for those who would be willing to learn,
willing to die to their old life and yield to his Lordship so he could bring to birth
something that wasn’t there. God is still the creator but in order to bring new life to
something the old must die. We want the numbers in the church and numbers are good. But
Jesus is more concerned about quality not quantity.
Sometimes we as believers are impressed by looking at
what we call 'results,' and saying, 'God is blessing that ministry. Look at what is
happening! People are getting saved, healed! Needs are met! How can you find fault with
that?' Sometimes we hear this report from the very people that are doing the ministry who
want peoples contributions. So they boast, exaggerate, and promise them what Scripture does
not to receive the offering for their ministry. We can be so naïve to what is operating,
we need to look beyond the surface and what is often an infomercial to solicit our support.
It's not just the results that God's looking at. He
wants it to be done His Way so he receives the glory. The issue is not whether people get
saved or not. The issue is: Is it done God's way, is it his plan? The ends does not justify
the means, it may be that way in the world, but not with Christ. Take for example Jeremiah
who had very little results as we would measure it. But he followed the commands of the
Lord to preach repentance, he had a heart for the people. Look at Jonah who finally did
obey but his heart wasn’t in it, and he had the greatest revival in biblical history. God
doesn’t need man to accomplish his purposes, but he wants to use us for his glory and
have us share in it by knowing him through the sufferings and trials.
Look at Moses who was asked to strike the Rock
and water flowed out, a second time in Num.20 he is to speak to the rock and instead he
strikes it twice in anger. He violated God's command and misrepresented him to the people
.In Ex.17 he struck it and is not reprimanded. Water was supernaturally supplied twice, the
first time he struck the rock he did in obedience, and the time 2nd in
disobedience because he was only to speak to it. Despite his disobedience God gave the
water to the people, It was supernaturally supplied! What
difference did it make to Israel, whether Moses struck the rock or spoke to
the rock? They got what they needed! But it made a difference to Moses. He was kept
out of the promised land because he did not do what was asked by God, he misrepresented
him. There are many ministries today that get results, what they do it works. But the
question that needs to be asked is it God's way, are the people being manipulated and who
really gets the blessing or the glory. Who is paying the price?
Not all that glitters is diamonds and gold. So many think that if they Follow the yellow
brick road of a famous evangelist, their is a pot of Gold containing success and prosperity
waiting for them at the end of the road. What ever happened to the promise of suffering for
his namesake or being persecuted. I‘m not saying we should be looking forward to this,
but I see the very opposite being taught in some churches and on TV. That we are to be
blessed and prosperous and everything should be smooth. This is a slippery slope downward
to coach potato Christianity. What are we being
prepared for peace and safety or the battle that rages for souls.
Jesus said to be witnesses of him to the ends of the earth. This meant martyrs, no
one at the time understood the sacrifice of what this calling meant. To take up ones cross
not only meant suffering but could very well have meant death. To not love ones life more
than the calling of Christ was reality. We can look back and see what it meant to the
ancient saints from the history of the church.
Stephen the first martyr reminds the Pharisees of Jesus words in Mt. 23 in his discourse
in Acts 7:52 “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those
who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and
murderers. He said they were stiff necked just as their forefathers in the wilderness.”
Is it any wonder they killed him on the spot!
James 5:10-11: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as
an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have
heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord-- that the Lord is
very compassionate and merciful.” We are very unfamiliar with suffering for our faith. We
cringe when we speak to someone about Christ and we are mocked. People say, 'Well look, I
don't want to have conflict, and I don't want to have division. But this is how the first
church grew by being bold and presenting the truth. They grew through conflicts with both
the religious leaders and the Roman society. What some are looking for is a nice warm
feelings where people will feel good about themselves and will throw teaching doctrine out
the door. And all that matters is that we come together and have love. But you take Bible
doctrine out of love and what do you have? What is love without the truth? There is no real
love apart from truth! Biblical love only functions in the context of truth. To operate
like this inside the Church is to throw in the towel and be just as the world.
What we need is some Holy Ghost boldness. All the apostles except one died out on the
mission field, they were dedicated and the disciples they trained were just as dedicated.
God asks His priests to be dedicated. In the OT when they served in the tabernacle they had
written on their foreheads holiness to the Lord. They were separated to do his work, today
it doesn't seem to matter.
It is from the writings of the church fathers that we know the history of the early
church. Eusibuis wrote of their history. This statement has echoed over the centuries of
time “the seed of the church is built on the blood of the martyrs.” Death was such a
common way to go that it was called a baptism of blood. Christians were called atheists
because they wouldn’t recognize Caesar as God. They didn't need to have Caesar as their
only God, but only add him to Jesus and they would be spared. Many did not compromise, yet
many did. Phil 1:29-30 “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to
believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in
me and now hear is in me.”
John the Apostle was the last to survive being banished on the Isle of Patmos.
Rev. 1:9 “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and
patience of Jesus Christ,” Of the many disciples he had one called Polycarp who lived
from 69-155 A.D.. He became the chief presbyter over the church at Smyrna and taught
Iraneaus of Lyons. Polycarp joined 11 others who were scourged and beheaded, he was burned
at the stake by Antoninus Pius. “So it befell the blessed Polycarp, who having with those
from Philadelphia suffered martyrdom in Smyrna--twelve in all--is especially remembered
more than the others by all men, so that he is talked of even by the heathen in every
place: for he showed himself not only a notable teacher, but also a distinguished martyr,
whose martyrdom all desire to imitate, seeing that it was after the pattern of the Gospel
of Christ.” Ignatius who was also a friend of Polycarp became bishop at Antioch, he was
fed to the lions at the Coliseum of Rome under Trajan in 117 A.D.. Irenaeus succeeded
bishop Pothirus when he died in the persecutions. Justin Martyr was so bold he wrote a
defense of Christianity addressed to the emperor. He confronted Marcion who rejected the
God of the Old Testament as the same as the new and issued his own version of the New Testament in which consisted part of the Gospel of Luke and
10 of Paul's epistles only. Justin also died a martyr beheaded at Rome in l67 AD. Justin
Martyr wrote-To the Emperor Augustus Caesar “You can kill us. But you cannot hurt us.”
Athanasius defending the deity and tri-unity of God's nature was almost killed within the
church as disputes of doctrine became overheated. He was chased out of Rome hiding out in
the hills for years. He felt that doctrine was important enough to defend.
These men and many others lived out the declaration of Paul who said “For me to live
is Christ and to die is gain.”
Because of pressure from the world and the new age of tolerance we are unwilling to
speak out against those who misrepresent Christ or hate him. Unlike the early Church, they
grew from contending openly. It was from being out in the open having friction that the
people were convinced of the truth, not by any miracle crusades. Few do this any longer and
we are certainly less unwilling to die for him. It has become the silence of the Lambs. The
path of least resistance is chosen, we have become as tolerant as some liberals. We
may be forced one day soon to have the courage the first century Church had, or go out with
a whimper. The power and grace is there, we just need to step out in faith.
In countries that are communist and Muslim and anti Christian, many still face the same
choice in the early Church, reject Jesus or die. In 1997-98 there were 160,000 Christians
each year in about 60 different countries that we know of that gave their lives for the
faith. In 98-99 Persecution of Christians is now on the upswing and reports of
enormous amount of people that have died, because their faith is hated. 2 Thess. 3:1-3:”
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified,
just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for
not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the
evil one. Pray for those in countries that are being persecuted, it is our duty and
privilege to pray for our brethren.
II Thess. 1:4-5: “so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your
patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is
manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the
kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; “ go look up how many of the letters are
written about suffering or written in suffering and not blessing, you’ll be surprised.
Contrary to the leaders that promise blessings for those who are in the covenant it was the
very opposite for those who lived in the power of God.
The purpose for our sufferings is to know him. Phil 3:10: “that I may know Him and the
power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His
death, “suffering is mostly foreign to the Christian lifestyle today in America, but it
was a way of life to the early Church. The phrase “fellowship of his sufferings” may
sound strange. How can one have an intimate relationship around suffering? It means to
partner together with him, we can receive strength now and the outcome of the resurrection
later. Without it we can’t know him, and we certainly can’t possess resurrection power.
The resurrection was their hope, just as Abraham knew when he offered his son Isaac, that
God's promise would be fulfilled.