THINKING OUT LOUD – About The Church

The Church – is God’s people gathered together

God’s people – born again believers / disciples

The Church – is empowered to be a witness

Acts 1:8 … “you shall receive power and be My witnesses…”

The Church – is here to complete the task Jesus began

Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:19-20

The Church – is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere

Matthew 24:14

The Church – is to demonstrate that the Gospel is true

1 Corinthians 1:4-5

The Church – is to grow and multiply constantly

Isaiah 9:7

The Church – is an organism and not an organization

1 Corinthians 12:27

The Church – is to be salt and light in the world

Matthew 5:13-14

The Church – is called to be ministers of reconciliation – a priesthood unto God

2 Corinthians 5:18 / 1 Peter 2:9

The Church – is called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom

2 Corinthians 5:20

 

 

A number of thoughts about the Church in general that I see today in the nations where I work…

1> One of the worst enemies of Christians (the Church) can be good things…

Good things in the Church

In many traditional churches we are keeping the Christians so busy with all the good things going on in and around the church building that they don’t have time to breath or to reach out

They are so active that “being salt and light” is simply a set of verses in the Bible and not a living reality.

Believers are so engaged in church activities and relating to each other (fellowship) that they are not building relationships with non-believers in their neighbourhood, where they work, and where they play.

So, the Church is defeated in its God-givn task by good things happening in the church

Good things in life

We are so blessed with so much and these many things keep us busy – mentally, physically, emotionally

Busy accumulating more things

Busy taking care of the things we have

Busy protecting and defending the lifestyle we live

Using Scripture at times – twisting Scripture usually

Busy trying to pay for all the things we are consuming and accumulating

Costs of our lifestyle choices

  • As a result of “good things” in the Church and in life…
  • As a result, most Christians see their lives so full with daily living that there is little extra time for God, Bible, prayer and no time to be building meaningful relationships with non-believers
  • As a result, most Christians live busy lives not connected at a deep level with other believers and definitely not with non-believers
  • As a result, most Christians are not intentionally building relationships with anyone
  • As a result, most Christians are not experiencing the ‘abundant life’ / freedom Jesus said we would have
  • As a result, most Christians fail to reach out and share the Gospel of the Kingdom with others
  • As a result, most Christians are not reproducing – disciples making disciples
  • As a result, most Christians are out-of-touch with the world we are suppose to impact.
  • As a result, most Christians are secret believers and the Church is misunderstood
  • As a result, most Christians can not share the Gospel of the Kingdom in a way that others would actually understand it
  1. The Church needs a new understanding of the Church
  2. The Church needs to remove clutter and baggage – “purge” life
  3. The Church needs to be equipped to touch lives for Jesus
  4. The Church needs to be released to be the Church

2> The Gospel that saves us from work saves us to work

We are saved by grace through faith and not by any ‘works’ that we might do and accomplish

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

But, once saved, there is work that we are called to do for Jesus.

These tasks are unique to each one of us and have been set out for us since before we made a decision to follow Jesus and make Him our Lord and Saviour

Ephesians 2:10 states, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The work we are to do – it could be called ‘ministry’

What we do for one another in the Church is not ministry – it is ‘maintenance’

What we do out there in our daily lives is real ‘ministry’ – the “work” prepared for us

Believer without a ministry to the unsaved are not true believers

Believers need to be intentionally reaching out to touch the lives of the lost with God’s love

 

There is too much that passes as ministry in the Church.

Ministry, true ministry, happens outside the church enclave.

And every person that is saved needs to pick up a ministry to the lost

 

This ministry is the same ministry Jesus had…

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Matthew 28:19a “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

This ministry – His ministry through us – should be accomplished in the same manner

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I   do; and greater works than these will he do…”

Christians are to demonstrate that Jesus is alive and well – and still doing miracles, signs, and wonders

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 “…my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

So we are called to “good works” right here at home – your neighbourhood, community, work place…

And, we are each individually called to “go into all the world”

All believers are called to go to the nations

James states, “Faith (in Christ) without resulting works is dead” (James 2:14)

3> The Word does the work

When I was saved 42 years ago there was a cute but true saying. It was, “The Word works if you work it.”

I believed that back then and still do today.

We are saved by the Word of God.

1 Peter 1:23 states, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of  imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God…”

The Bible also states that the Word of God is living and active working to change each believer. Change them from the inside out.

Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

So, my point, the Word does the work

If you are ‘in the Word’ and believe the Word of God (New Testament)

  •             That Word is working inside of you whether you know it or not
  •             That Word will change you from the inside out
  •             That Word will adjust your values, morals, dreams, desires, lifestyle
  •             That Word will equip you to face life head-on

As you share the Word with others through your attitude, words, actions

It goes deep inside them and will, in time, bring that person to a point in life where they will need to make a decision

4> Building the right church depends on using the wrong people

God chooses some very odd people to be His Church and build His Church.

Paul reminds us of this when he wrote to the Church in the city of Corinth.

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 “But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame. What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all (of no value) is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important.”

God uses ordinary people to do extra-ordinary things

God uses people who are very down to earth (natural) to do the supernatural.

God uses those who are not super intelligent to confound the wise in their earthly wisdom.

God uses those who are losers, rescues them, and makes them winners for His Kingdom.

God uses every member of the Church, His Body for specific ministries to the lost

He does not reject anyone

No believer is ever disqualified from ministering in His Name

Every born again believer has a ministry

 

The Church today is looking for the person who is anointed

The Church today is looking for a leader with charisma

The Church today is looking for someone who is a great, powerful, entertaining teacher

The Church today rushes towards the super star – the current big thing

 

We have failed to recognize that we are all part of the priesthood and we are all ministers and no one is ‘special’ or more anointed

God uses every member of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)

5> The Church should be living – and longing – for the end of the world

Focused on – desiring – praying for

We are living for the ‘end.’

So, we are longing for and praying that Jesus will come back soon…

1 Corinthians 16:22 “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Come Lord, come!”

ASV – “If any man loves not the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha.”

John ends the Book of Revelation with the same cry

Revelation 22:20 “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Our lifestyle should indicate that we are living as those who believe the end could be near and Jesus is soon to return.

The”end” should be a determining factor in every decision that we make

We are not ‘in love with the things of this world’ but live in such a way that our lifestyle shows others our love for the Master and each other – including the lost.

1 John 2:15-16 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

We are intentionally reaching out and sharing the Gospel of the Kingdom and His love because we know the end is coming…

We are telling others the good news of the Gospel because we know that without a personal relationship with Jesus people are not going to go to Heaven

And, we are telling others about the wonderful news of the Gospel of the Kingdom because we know that every person on the planet must hear the good news before the end can come and Jesus returns…

Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

6> The best is yet to come

To misuse a verse from the wedding in Cana … “He has saved the best wine for the last”

We are living in such trying and desperate times

We are living in a time when darkness is becoming gross darkness

We are living in a time when the ‘spirit of stupid’ has been released

> You don’t have to be male or female at birth – you get to choose, daily if needed

> Celine Dion has now formed a company producing a line of clothes for those who                                     don’t want to be either male or female or can’t make up their mind

We are living in a time when so many people are living without hope

We are living in a time when few really know they are loved

We are living in a time where many do not feel accepted or that they belong

 

What a time to be alive and be a believer…

What a time to be a disciple of Jesus…

What a time to be part of His Church and called by His Name

 

The best is yet to come

 

Jesus said that we are to go into the nations

The word ‘nations’ is people groups / ethnic groups / language groups

There are an estimated 11,000 people groups in the world today

 

According to definitions, a people group is classified as unreached if less than 2 percent of the population is made up of born again Christians

This means that if you are part of an unreached people group, likely you will live, and you will die, without ever hearing the Gospel or the Name of Jesus

And out of more than 11,000 people groups in the world more than 6,000 of them are still defined as unreached

And many of those who have been reached – the number of believers is still below 5% of the population

It is a great time to be alive and a believer / The best is yet to come

We have the ways and means to reach each and every people group… IF

In the midst of the Great Falling Away there will be a great harvest

Matthew 24:12-14 “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Closing comments…

In the Church that Jesus is building, church leaders are intended by God not to plan events but to equip people. The people are then released to do the ministry that God has called each one to accomplish in His Name

Ephesians 4:11-12 “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Leaders do not exist to provide services and do ministry; they exist to train and equip the people. So, leaders in the Church need to make a concentrated effort to stop organizing ministry for people (meeting their needs) and invest their time in mobilizing people for ministry.

A true story from a communist nation… we will call our believer Dominic

Dominic is now in his sixties, and he has been a believer, a member, and a leader of a relatively small house church for most of his life. Dominic’s passion is telling people about Christ.,

He was once brought before the Communist council in his community to be questioned about his faith and his evangelistic work. He walked into the interrogation room with a large rock in his hands and set it down on the table in front of the men who were about to question him.

Surprised, one of the men asked Dominic, “Why did you bring this rock with you?”

Dominic replied, “Before we begin my questioning today, I want you to know something. If you try to stop me from telling people about the greatness of Jesus Christ, then this rock is going to start speaking for me.”

Dominic was alluding to Luke 19:40, where Jesus says that if the disciples didn’t proclaim His glory, the stones would cry out instead.

The Communist leaders, of course, had no idea what Dominic was talking about. They conferred and decided that Dominic was out of his mind, so they released him without further questioning.

Dominic’s passion to tell people about Christ translates into a commitment to train people in the house church. When he leads someone to Christ, Dominic takes personal responsibility for helping that person grow in Christ. His goal is for that person to become a leader in the church and then eventually to leave and plant another church somewhere else. All leaders have a job outside the church to make their living and support their families.

Dominic’s church has now planted more than sixty other churches in his country, with nearly every one of the leaders personally trained by Dominic. He does not organize ministry for people, he does not minister to his people – he mobilizes people for ministry. His life and leadership are a picture of what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ today.

This is the same model we see in the life of Jesus. He spent more time with 12 men than with everyone else put together. In John 17, where He recounts His ministry before going to the cross, He doesn’t mention the multitudes He preached to or the miracles He performed. As spectacular as those events were, they were not His primary focus. Instead forty times Jesus speaks to and about the men in whom He had invested His life. They were His focus.

When He came to His ascension, Jesus had no buildings or programs to point to and no crowds to boast of. Indeed, most of the crowds had walked away. Just 120 unschooled, ordinary people were gathered – a small group with a small band of leaders.

And He had given them one command as their commission: make disciples. Do with others what I have done with you, Jesus has said. Don’t sit in a classroom; share your lives. Don’t build extravagant places; build extraordinary people. Make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples, and together multiply this gospel to all people.

This is the simple command that was to drive the Church. And this is the simple command that is to drive each of our lives because we are the Church.

SUMMARY….

1> One of the worst enemies of Christians can be good things in the Church

2> The Gospel that saves us from work saves us to work

3> The Word does the work

4> Building the right church depends on using the wrong people

5> We are living – and longing – for the end of the world

6> The best is yet to come