A Litte Monday Morning Musing…Hear and Do…

Jesus said that those who hear these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The man who hears and does not do will be like an unwise man who build his house on the sand. When challenges arise to beat on the structure of one’s life, what it has been founded on will be why it stands.

I could hear these words echoing in my ears as I was driving my boys to school today. I always make it my aim to pray for Kingdom things for my boys as I drive them to school.

PLEASE HEAR WHAT I’M ABOUT TO SAY AND DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME. In spite of what I just wrote in all caps, I can already see the email complaint. Oh well, suck it up. I was an educator in a Christian school for 9 years. My boys have only known private Christian school. The purpose here is not to debate why private, private Christians, public, homeschool. EACH ONE HAS IT’S PROBLEMS. EVEN HOMESCHOOLING. SO DON’T GIVE ME ANY JUNK ABOUT WHY ONE IS SUPERIOR. THEY ALL FULL OF SINNERS AND HYPOCRITES AND WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING.

Our school is amazing and I’d put our academics against anybody and we’d win. Our spiritual development is tops. However, I’ve watched men and women rebel mightily against the truth of the Kingdom while at our school and even after they graduate. Private Christian school is no magic bullet. Private school is no magic bullet. Homeschool is no magic bullet. I’ve known homeschool kids to come off the dang chain when they leave the heavy thumb of their parents. I’ve known public school students to turn the world upside down for the Kingdom.

Here is what I prayed for my boys this morning, and I’d ask this for all who want to follow Jesus: Father, don’t let my boys take the Kingdom for granted and please don’t let them assume the faith. May they hear and do what you say. May their identity be known not by what exits their mouth but by their sonship through adoption as your sons and the Kingdom fruit they produce.

The post-Christian south is loaded with people who say words that sound “Christian” but they do not do what Jesus said. As a matter of fact, it’s the “Christian” that makes me want to leave “Christian” school altogether some days. Lip service to the Kingdom is useless. Jesus said that on the day of his reckoning there will be people who call him Lord but did not do what he said and Jesus will tell them to depart from him.

I fear my boys taking the metanarrative of the gospel for granted. I fear my boys being inoculated against Kingdom language (I use some psychology to counteract that in that I’m quite salty and do some crazy things globally and allow my boys access to “things” most “Christians” would be appalled at so that they see, smell, taste and know what we are up against). I fear the influence of the ethos of Rome, Georgia on my boys. I’m taking them to my favorite country as soon as I can raise the money to take them specifically so they can see a non-Christian world and enjoy the shock of the real world and their need to fill the domains they were created to fill, bring the healing of the Kingdom to that domain and make disciples and see the church explode in that domain. Is that dangerous? Yes. Why is letting them rot in a pseudo-Christian bubble any less dangerous? Do you believe Matthew 10:26-33?

Don’t assume the faith. Don’t take a Kingdom view of all things for granted. Ask, seek and knock. Go and do. Hear and obey. Just don’t assume the faith.

A little Monday morning musing.

2 Timothy 1:8-14 Do Not Be Ashamed

2 Timothy 1:8-14

Do not be Ashamed of the King and his Kingdom / Put on display the King and his Kingdom (turning the statement of ashamed in the negative into a positive)

Last week we looked at the introduction and discovered there was a rich and palpable fellowship that was enjoyed by Paul, Timothy and the church at Ephesus.

That fellowship in love for each other allowed for the mutual encouragement to stay the course and fight the fight of the faith.

Paul’s love for and investment in Timothy allowed him to exhort Timothy to stand his ground and fan his gifting into flame, and this fellowship, love, encouragement and exhortation is the basis for the next instruction: Do not be ashamed of the Lord, his servants and be ready to suffer for the Kingdom.

Vital here is the connection between fellowship, potent gifting and putting the King and his Kingdom on display / being vocal about the Kingdom.

One leads to the other. Rich and palpable community leads to the confidence and boldness to do the work of the Kingdom (or using the negative not being ashamed of the kingdom).

The Lord sent out the 72 in teams of 2 with clear instruction. Community in service and proclamation brings boldness and accountability. Isolation can lead to believing lies because there is no one to exercise their Spirit gifting to call that lie a lie, so the person begins to live by it and the next thing we know it’s integrated into their worldview.

Much of the church’s lack of authority in the west is due to the church simply not being in fellowship and serving each other and serving together.

So many are too busy seeking the kingdom of this world that they can’t seek the kingdom of God together with other Jesus’ followers.

Perhaps we wrestle with evangelism because we are not in deep and intimate community.

Paul’s love for, fellowship with and exhortation of Timothy leads to the command to not be ashamed or to boldly make known the testimony of Jesus.

So, lets take a look at the overarching theme of 1:8-14 as “Do not be ashamed” or, to state it in the positive, “confidently and boldly do the work of the kingdom”, and let’s see the supporting reasons for such a theme.

Do not be ashamed/Be confident and bold: The service of the King is an honor v. 8a

“Therefore, do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, NOR OF ME HIS PRISONER…”

Paul does not see his imprisonment as an imprisonment at the hands of the Roman Empire. Rather Paul calls himself a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s understanding of the sovereignty of Jesus is astounding.

Paul sees his imprisonment as being at the hands of the Lord for glorious purposes.

Paul understands the kingdom. The kingdom has a King. That King is utterly sovereign over all nations, so much so that what Rome and the Emperor is doing to him now, he views as the work of Jesus.

The gospel of salvation focuses on escape from hell. The gospel of the kingdom focuses on the King and his kingdom (rule over all things).

Paul sees his salvation through the lens of the Kingdom and he sees himself as imprisoned by Jesus for Jesus’ purposes.

So, why should Paul and Timothy not be ashamed? They are servants of THE KING.

So, since they are agents in the King’s work, their suffering for Jesus is not something to be ashamed of. Rather their imprisonment and suffering is a badge of honor.

If they are mistreated it is being treated like King Jesus! After all, Jesus said his followers would be treated like he was treated.

Think of it like this, when a POW was imprisoned, he endured because his mission was just. He was proud of his service. The enemy would seek to shame them because they were captured, but they had to fight to keep their honor because their work was just.

When suffering for the King and his Kingdom, there is no shame. It’s an honor. If we are rejected, it is an honor. If we are opposed, it is an honor.

  1. The Christian does not seek to avoid suffering because suffering is not an indication of failure, rather of being on mission with the King.
  1. The Christian identifies with those who suffer for the King and want to assist, comfort and help.
  1. The Christian is confident and bold in their kingdom work goes “front door”.

Do not be ashamed/Be confident and bold: Share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God v. 8b

“, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,”

Let’s be clear. If we engage the globe we will suffer. Most of our suffering will be indirect in that we personally won’t receive suffering. Our partners may suffer and we suffer with them due to our love for them, but most of us will not suffer like our global brothers and sisters.

We suffer mostly from our foolish swallowing of the bait of Satan to reel us into the world system and keep us from the kingdom.

We suffer mostly from disobeying Jesus and getting the fruit of folly rather than the fruit of the kingdom!

Any right suffering we take, we will take to a lesser degree than the global church.

However, we may suffer ridicule and marginalization.

These can have the appearance of setting the church aside, but make no mistake, if the community of the Kingdom engages, even if she is marginalized, Jesus uses that to establish his rule.

Jesus is building his church and we are following him. We take whatever he decides is good. Remember, Paul views himself as imprisoned by Jesus not Rome.

Whatever we encounter, for following Jesus, we can trust that Jesus is behind it.

Based on the grammar here, being ashamed would cause one to avoid whatever situation would bring suffering due to the message.

In other words, if the message would bring suffering, the person who kept the message to themselves to avoid the “suffering” would be the one who is ashamed.

The ashamed person would rather avoid public ridicule by keeping the message to themselves.

Listen to Luke 9:26:

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Shame causes us to avoid speaking about the King and his kingdom. If we are operating in our “flesh” we may be tempted to be ashamed.

If we are operating alone we may be tempted to not be bold and confident.

But we are told in this passage to suffer “by the power of God.”

It’s vital to understand that we don’t suffer for Jesus in our own will and power.

  1. We gladly align with Jesus
  2. We trust Jesus’ sovereign placement of us
  3. Father and Spirit provide the strength to suffer with Jesus

If Jesus put us there, he is with us because he is working in us to make himself known. You and I can take rest in that truth.

Paul goes on to describe the “power of God” in verses 9-12 (because he talks about God’s power then gives us a comma before the word “who” thus unpacking that powerful work) in recalling our salvation so that Timothy could see that just as he didn’t create his purpose or his salvation he can’t create the power to suffer. He simply receives that power as he is aligned with Jesus.

And this is a key point: we are receivers as children not “getters” by our power.

Sons receive they don’t go get in the Kingdom. We don’t prove our identity as sons by performing. We receive the kingdom freely because Father is delighted to give it to us (Luke 4:3 – tempted to operate out of need not identity. Luke 12:32 – Father is pleased to give us the kingdom because we are his).

Look at how Paul makes this point to Timothy that we receive power to boldly and confidently do the work of the kingdom/to not be ashamed.

  1. Father saved us and called us to a holy calling not because of our works but because of his own purpose in grace. v. 9a
  1. Father’s purpose for saving us was given us in Christ Jesus before the ages began v. 9b
  1. Father’s purpose has now been manifested through the coming of Jesus v. 10a
  1. Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel v. 10b
  1. The power of God to save is the basis of Paul’s appointing as a preacher, apostle and teacher and this is why he suffers v. 11-12a

Do not be ashamed/Be confident and bold: Jesus is able to guard what has been entrusted v. 12b

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

Paul is a herald of the kingdom and that is the reason for his suffering. Not being stupid. Not being foolish. Paul suffers because he preaches the kingdom.

So, Paul follows this up with the bold statement that this causes him no shame. Why?

The answer to the why is simply Jesus.

  1. Paul knows the one in whom he has believed.

Paul has an active, ongoing, real and powerful life with the King of the universe in whom he has believed.

Notice Paul did not say that he knows all the right things about Jesus. Paul says that he knows the one he has believed in.

Is your doctrine sound but your practice not up to par? Then you know. You do not believe. There is a difference. I do what I believe. I give lip service to what I know. Knowledge puffs up, Paul says, but love builds up. The one who loves like Jesus has passed from knowing about love to having experienced that kind of love, and now this person is actively giving that kind of love out.

They may imprison Paul, but Paul can say that he’s seen the King. They may think they put Paul in prison, but Paul knows Jesus put him there and can set him free or give them the liberty to take his life. Either way, Jesus wins and Paul wins because he’s a son.

Do you know Jesus like that!

  1. Paul is convinced that Jesus is able to guard the message he’s been entrusted with until “that day”.

So, what has Paul been entrusted with, and what is the time frame on Jesus guarding it? 2 Questions. What has Paul been entrusted with? How long is Jesus able to guard it?

First, Paul has been entrusted with the gospel of the Kingdom. Paul does not have to guard the gospel. Jesus guards the gospel. Paul simply receives the active work of Jesus in him to give a defense.

Luke 12:11-12 “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

That’s not to say Paul didn’t study and that we don’t need to study. The bible clearly teaches we should study to show ourselves as a workman approved who can handle the word well (2 Timothy 2:15).

Read Galatians 2:1, Paul spent 14 years working and studying and growing.

But our study and our learning are not in our own strength, but by the power of God. We’ve seen that already.

Second, what is “that day”? That day is what Paul referred to in Titus 2:13, the blessed hope of the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus will guard the message by his power in us and through us until he returns to rescue, resurrect and conquer. He’ll guard it in us and through us until he personally returns to finish the drill.

Do not be ashamed/Be confident and bold: Follow the pattern of sound (healthy) words from Paul in the faith and love that are in Jesus v. 13

Great news for Timothy: he does not have to make anything up. Paul has passed on the message and Timothy is to follow those sound words in faith and love.

No doubt Paul has in mind here the practices learned by Paul as the Spirit has inspired and taught and Scripture has been penned. More than likely Paul is referencing 1 Timothy.

Timothy is to boldly and confidently order the church, appoint elders and get after preaching and teaching.

Timothy is to do this in faith and love.

  1. Timothy is to trust that God’s way is better and does not need modern Greek business acumen applied.

We get in trouble when we try to do kingdom work with western business models. We strategize first and pray when we get into a pickle. We work harder rather than receive the kingdom. We worry rather than seeking first the kingdom and the King’s righteousness.

  1. Timothy is to love as he follows the sound words.

This is a tough one. Timothy is to correct opponents in gentleness hoping they escape the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

Timothy’s love springs from compassion for those ensnared by Satan who are either in the church or outside causing problems.

We, likewise, must trust Father’s way and his means of love.

Do not be ashamed/Be confident and bold: Guard the good deposit entrusted to you by the Spirit v. 14

Finally, Paul tells Timothy to boldly and confidently guard the gospel. But, again, this is not done in fleshly toil. This is done by the powerful work of the Spirit (Luke 12:11-12).

Timothy is to depend on the Spirit to give him words when he needs them and he is to fan into flame his Spirit gifting through practice and passion for Jesus.

It is in this work that he guards the gospel.

Worship!

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

Church, we are a worshiping people. We are to make much of Jesus. We are not ashamed. Rather we confidently and boldly make much of Jesus in song to his praise and our joy.

2 Timothy 1:1-7

2 Timothy 1:1-7

“…Be Strengthened By The Grace That Is In Christ Jesus.” 2:1

Paul writes 2 Timothy as he is awaiting execution. Paul is facing death, the end of his ministry, and abandonment by many of his friends due to their fear of persecution.

When Paul wrote 1 Timothy he was on the road hoping to visit Ephesus again. Now, he is imprisoned for what we believe is his second imprisonment. Tradition holds that Paul was likely housed in the Mammertine prison. If so, it was a dismal underground chamber with a single hole for light and air. He had already had his court hearing (4:16-18), and he expects that he’ll soon be executed (4:6-8).

Paul was lonely. Luke was the only one with him. Demas had abandoned him due to loving the world system (4:10). Crescens and Titus were off on their next ministry assignments while it seems things had deteriorated at Ephesus. There were desertions, but old Hymenaeus, who was excommunicated, was still doing his best to thwart the work of the gospel (1 Timothy 1:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).

Paul will conclude 2 Timothy with a request that Timothy come as quick as he can and bring John Mark with him and his warm clothing as well as the parchments (writing and copying the New Testament). We don’t know whether Timothy and John Mark got to him before he was executed.

So Paul, in this letter, faithfully directed his spiritual son Timothy to the hope that he has in Christ as he shepherds the Lord’s people there at Ephesus along with some very clear instructions on the continued work.

Let’s begin by looking at the introduction to the letter.

Corporate and Personal Greeting 1:1-2

Audience

Who is Paul’s audience? This is important to establish. The reason is that if this book is only written to Timothy, then only us pastors need to tune in and everyone else can check out. But if this letter is written to Timothy and the church at Ephesus too, then pastors and the whole church need to tune in and listen.

As we discovered in our study of 1 Timothy, the qualifications for an elder are clear but it’s not like the church member can ignore those qualifications and be slack in those areas, right?

Saying the instructions in the pastoral letters applies to the pastors and not the congregation would look like this: The elders need to be careful with their alcohol consumption but everyone else can just loose their minds. That makes no sense.

The same is true here, and our evidence starts in verse 1. Paul’s general greeting in 2 Timothy 1:1 is the same formula he used when writing whole churches. If Paul intended this letter for Timothy only this formal greeting would not be needful. But the fact that Paul included this formal greeting lets us know that he intends Timothy to read this letter to the entire church and for the entire church to be instructed.

Therefore, what is written in 2 Timothy is for all of us at TRCC and anyone reading 2 Timothy. None of us escape the applications we’ll make from 2 Timothy as we study through the book.

It is also clear from verse 2 that Paul is also writing Timothy specifically in this letter. This is clear from verse 2 and also from clear instruction to him, the personal nature and warm way he addresses Timothy.

So, as we study 2 Timothy we’ll note the corporate and personal instruction that comes to light.

So, 2 Timothy isn’t just a “pastoral” letter. 2 Timothy is a letter written to a church and the elder Paul appointed to lead that church, Timothy.

What do we learn from Paul’s introductory remarks to Timothy and the church at Ephesus?

Prayer Grace from the Lord and Warm Remembrance of Kingdom Fellowship 1:2-5

Paul begins his last instruction to Ephesus and Timothy with the 3-fold blessing of “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul’s blessing is a prayer/desire for these people he loved. He prayed for the abundant loving kindness from the Lord to be evident, that the mercy of the Lord would be clear and that they would taste the peace of the Lord in spite of circumstances.

Paul then moves to a remembrance of their fellowship.

Our fellowship is to be real and palpable just like Paul, Timothy and the Ephesian’s fellowship was.

Fellowship among followers of Jesus covenanted together is to be exceptionally sweet.

Our foundation for fellowship is that we are created in the image of the Trinitarian God of creation. As a result of bearing the image of Trinity we are to be in fellowship as Father, Son and Spirit are in fellowship.

There is no such thing as fellowship-less Christians. The bible knows nothing of one of God’s people not covenanted together with others also in the kingdom.

Spirit empowered and controlled fellowship is essential, and we’ve studied that recently in Ephesians.

Here is a quick reminder:

Walking worthy of our gospel calling to be unified under the headship of Jesus (Ephesians 4:1). How did Paul describe that fellowship of walking worthy?

  1. Bearing with one another in love
  2. Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
  3. Eager to use one’s gifting for the building up of the body
  4. Refusing to fall prey to the deceitful schemes of Satan
  5. Grow up together into Jesus who is our Chief Shepherd
  6. Put off the old self and put on the new self
  7. We speak the truth but refuse to sin in righteous anger
  8. Labor so you can have something to share rather than being a taker
  9. Refuse to let corrupting talk come out of our mouths
  10. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit
  11. Put away bitterness, wrath and malice
  12. We are kind to one another
  13. We seek to imitate God
  14. We put sexual immorality away from us
  15. Live wisely
  16. Understand the Lord’s will and live accordingly
  17. Live a Spirit-filled life
  18. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ
  19. Husbands and wives maintain biblical marriage
  20. Children obey parents
  21. Fathers not provoking their children to anger
  22. Working to serve the Lord regardless of station
  23. Putting on the armor of God to stay alert and advance the gospel

We’ll refer to that as “Ephesian style” fellowship.

“Ephesian style” fellowship like this causes the pleasantness of Paul’s remembrance of Timothy and the Ephesians.

 

Listen to verse 3.

“I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

  1. Paul remembers Timothy in prayer v. 3

Although the “you” here is singular, it is clear from Acts 20:17-38 that Paul and the Ephesians have great love for each other.

But it seems that verse three is best understood in light of Paul’s personal relationship with Timothy.

Paul remembers Timothy in prayer night and day.

No doubt he is in prison and there is likely not much else Paul can do. However, what is to be noted is that Paul remembers Timothy with great fondness.

Paul interjects a little commentary about his service to the Lord with a clear conscience. If you read the sentence without his interjection it’s easier to make sense of his interjection.

“I thank God whom I serve as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.”

Paul Gives thanks to the Lord for Timothy’s service as he prays for Timothy. Paul, in this thanksgiving for Timothy is giving thanks for his (Paul’s) opportunity for service as well. So, Paul’s occasion to give thanks for Timothy is an occasion to give thanks for what the Lord has done in and through him too.

The interjection, “…as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience…” helps us see that Paul has not abandoned his heritage, rather he has seen it fulfilled through Christ and his conscience is perfectly clear regarding his dealings with his Jewish background.

Paul didn’t abandon his heritage. Paul sought its transformation. Although Paul’s identity was larger than “Jew” as a citizen of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, Paul sought to bring as many of his countrymen as possible into his new identity as a follower of Jesus Christ.

We likewise don’t loose our distinctions, but our identity is clearly larger than our distinctions. However, we want as many of those we come from to come with us.

So, as Paul gives thanks for his and Timothy’s ministry, Paul also stands with a clear conscience in that ministry having served his people although they largely rejected the message from him.

So, what we understand is that Paul fondly remembers Timothy and their service together in the mission of Jesus and this causes Paul to pray for Timothy.

What application can we make from these truths?

A1. Serve together on mission.

A2. Grow in fondness for each other as you fellowship “Ephesian style”.

A3. Allow that fondness for each other to prompt you to prayer for each other

and the mission.

A4. Seek to bring as many as you can from your diverse background with you

through the preaching of the gospel into the community of the kingdom.

 

  1. This “Ephesian style” fellowship brings about a longing to be reunited v. 4

“As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.”

Paul uses the perfect tense here to communicate the surety of his memory regarding Timothy’s love for him and Timothy’s love for the gospel.

Paul’s longing to see Timothy is more than an internal warm fuzzy. The grammar (participle) indicates that Paul’s longing is an internal and emotional desire that causes physical manifestations.

Their “Ephesians style” fellowship was so good that it affected Paul’s desire to see his friend and co-laborer in the gospel.

Do you ever want something so bad that you just sort of get antsy, just can’t sit still? That’s what Paul is describing here.

Paul can’t wait to see Timothy.

No doubt that there is a mission wrought closeness forged between Paul and Timothy.

Paul did have a father/son relationship with Timothy and he wanted to see his son in the faith.

The best way I can describe this longing is the longing I have when I’ve been out of the country and am on my way home.

I get into my “b-line” mode. I get impatient. I get fierce. I get socially bold.

No joke, I was returning from a trip out of the country and had been on multiple plane changes, I was tired and “hangry” and we had landed in Washington DC. The polite non-Americans were gone and we were boarding for the ATL with a bunch of rude dogs. I had a small carry on that I was going to stow away above my seat, sit down, close my eyes and snooze. However, some guy put his “should have been checked” luggage above my seat and then put his carry on size bag above his own seat. I was done. I sat my small bag down in my seat. I grabbed his “should have been checked” luggage from my overhead bin. I walked it over to him. I sat it down in the aisle beside him and said, “That’s my overhead bin not yours. Check you bag.” I was one landing and a quick drive away from seeing my wife and kids. No moron was standing in the way. My longing was strong. My family is vital to me. I long to see them when I’m away. I love them.

That’s Paul’s love for Timothy. “I long to see you.”

This is the kind of love we are to also have for each other in the community of the kingdom.

Do you endear yourself to each other that way? Do you long for each other the way Paul does for Timothy?

How can we grow that?

A1. We must do the mission together

A2. We must do time together

A3. We must be mutual servants of each other

This leads to a love for and longing to be together.

  1. This “Ephesian style” fellowship also provides a reminder of faithfulness v. 5

Paul’s ministry with and longing for his son in the faith led to his remembering Timothy’s faith.

“I am reminded of your sincere faith…”

Paul encourages Timothy in this reminder that his faith is genuine. No doubt Timothy needs to be reminded that his faith is real. He’s a pastor at Ephesus. They got a letter from Paul and one from Jesus in Revelation. Apparently this was not the easiest of pastoral locations. You might be a hard place when you get a letter from Jesus!

Notice, however, what Paul speaks regarding Timothy’s faith:

“…a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice…”

There is a component of faith that is given as a gift, and that’s saving faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Then there is a component to our continued faithfulness that is passed on and imitated, that component of our trust in Jesus that we put to work in how we respond to crisis or engagement in the work of the gospel.

The writer of Hebrews uses chapter 11 to move his readers on to faithful living in light of the saving faith imparted through the work of the gospel. He exhorts them, in light of those who had born witness to a life of faith to likewise throw off the hindrances and run like those witnesses to a life of faithfulness.

Here, Paul reminds Timothy of his heritage of faithful trust in the Lord and encourages Timothy to imitate that faithfulness.

Timothy is in the middle of pastoring a in a tough place, and Paul reminds Timothy to imitate the faithfulness that he has seen in his own family from a faithful mom and grandmother.

Timothy’s assignment will require him to trust in the Lord and hold on.

So, Paul affirms Timothy’s faith and therefore, brings encouragement to the young pastor to hang on and fight the good fight of the faith.

A few points of application:

A1. If you have a heritage of faithfulness to Jesus’ mission, draw on it.

A2. If you don’t have a heritage of faithfulness to Jesus’ mission, create it for

your children.

  1. This “Ephesian style” fellowship allows for giving strong instruction 1:6-7

Take note, if you are going to give instruction to a fellow church member you need relational / fellowship capital with which to do that. When you have done the mission with, bled with, stuck with, gone to war with, and fought for you can say things that you can’t typically say.

If you are going to give pastoral tips you need to be a spiritual father or have been in the trenches with the man first.

People have a tendency to want to tell people how to do ministry with no fellowship capital or for that matter with no co-ministry capital. It’s amazing sometimes that armchair ministry / pastor types read a book and now they are an expert though having done nothing but leave chaos in their wake. It simply does not work that way.

“Ephesian style” fellowship makes it possible to give instruction.

Paul says, “For this reason”.

What reason? Thanksgiving for common ministry, joy in co-laboring work and a great desire to be reunited and Timothy’s faith is firmly in tact. He trusts Jesus. He’s filled with the Spirit. He’s adequately Spirit gifted. For this reason Paul now exhorts Timothy to get after the work.

Paul instructs Timothy to get after the work by fanning his Spirit gifting into flame.

Somehow and some way Timothy received a ministry gift when Paul laid hands on him and prayed for him. Whether this was an “ordaining” service or simply Paul laying his hands on Timothy and praying for him we are not sure. That’s not the point of the text anyway.

The point is that Father has gifted Timothy and Timothy is to fan that gift into flame.

This is interesting and insightful regarding Timothy’s gifting and ours.

Timothy had a role in the sovereignly given gift’s exercise. Spirit gives the ministry gift and then Timothy had to “fan it into flame”.

Whatever this gifting is the temptation seems to be, according to verse 7, to let it lie dormant or not at full potency due to fear.

It could be that Timothy’s opponents have him cowering due to their myth telling and powerful speech, but regardless, Timothy has let his gift wane and Paul reminds him we have been given power, love and self-control.

What is Timothy to do with this instruction? What are we to do with this instruction?

  1. Realize our Spirit gifting requires disciplined exercise in the church

The bible does not give us a list of “how to’s” regarding our growth in the right use of Spiritual gifts.

What the bible does teach us is that gifts are for others and they are for building up the church.

We become aware of our gifting in the church and those gifts are refined in the church.

How can I know my gifting?

Jolly’s Spiritual Gift Inventory:

  1. What do I do that is either natural and transformed by the gospel or supernaturally given that serves other people in the church or advances the kingdom of Jesus Christ?
  1. Does that thing serve other people and build them up or point them toward Jesus for salvation?
  1. Does that thing make me happy and give me more energy the more I do it?

That is your Spirit gifting. Use it.

How do you use it? First, be at church on Sundays. Second, be in a Radical Life Group that meets consistently. Third, serve people in need. Fourth, use your gift with humility. Fifth, grow at discerning the impact of your gifting and seek to grow that impact as Father would allow.

Side Note: Some of this is just the nuts and bolts of life together, but if you serve people you will get served when it’s needed, but if you hide and don’t get connected and needs arise it’s hard to get people to take care of that because they don’t know you. But when people who serve people have a need and don’t pridefully hide it, those people get rallied around.

  1. We are to exercise our gifting in love for Jesus and his church

It should go without saying, but our gifting is for the glory of Jesus, who gives such gifts to his church through the Spirit, and for the building up of his church. (Ephesians 4:7-14)

  1. We are to exercise our gifting in self-control

In order to get a picture of what this may look like it may be helpful to think about 1 Corinthians 12-14.

People were using their gifting in prideful arrogance to put their spirituality on display rather than for the purpose of building up the church.

Self-controlled gifting looks like using the Lord’s gifting for its purpose not for the gifted person’s reputation of being spiritual.

Jesus taught us this in Matthew 6 regarding prayer and fasting. We don’t exercise these things to be seen by men. Rather we exercise these things to be seen by God.

Likewise, gifting is not for the gifted to grow their devotional life or their career. Gifting is for the other not the possessor of the gift.

However, the gifting is not to be ignored either. It is to be put to work. So, the gifted do not quench the Spirit, rather they grow in their use of and understanding of that gifting for the building up of the body of Christ so that their family can grow up into Christ.

Therefore, Timothy was to not ignore nor abuse his gifting. Neither are we.

Worship

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

Evangelism 2

Evangelism 2

Let’s recap quickly:

Definition: The preaching of the good news with an aim to persuade.

We want to create a culture of evangelism

  1. A culture motivated by love for Jesus and his gospel[1]

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

  1. A culture that is confident in the gospel

Romans 1:16

  1. A culture that understand the danger of entertainment

Ezekiel 33:30-32

  1. A culture that sees people clearly

2 Corinthians 5:16a

  1. A culture that pulls together as one

Philippians 1:3-5

  1. A culture in which people teach one another

2 Timothy 1:13

  1. A culture that models evangelism “passed on”[2]

2 Timothy 2:2

  1. A culture in which people who are sharing their faith are celebrated

Philippians 2:19-22

  1. A culture that knows how to affirm and celebrate new life

Colossians 1:3-4, 7

  1. A culture doing ministry that feels risky and is dangerous

Philippians 1:12-13

  1. A culture that understands the church is the chosen and best method of

evangelism

Acts 2:46-47

  1. We want to connect that culture of evangelism to the function of the church

Remember that evangelism is grass-roots. It’s not top – down.

Our love for each other and our unity convey that we are Jesus’ disciples and that Jesus is God.

The life of the church has built-in gospel pointers that when people are engaged with the message of the gospel by all of it’s members and those members bring people to see and hear more they get it in word, deed and experience.

So, what is the most biblical and healthy way to go about doing evangelism today?

Let’s Be Intentional In Our Evangelism

Part of being intentional is evangelism is following the lead of King Jesus. The truth is that Jesus is ruling all things well providentially.

We may never see how the parts are worked together by the providential grace of the Lord, but our personal efforts to tell the good news often is boosted along by an intersecting relationship down the line, sometimes years after the fact and that leads to another opportunity of the gospel through an invitation to attend the church’s gathering that leads to a meal that leads to a bible study that leads to someone coming into the kingdom.

Paul said it like this: some sowed, some watered, some harvested but God gave the growth.

However, it takes intentional obedience to scatter gospel seed for watering by others.

Let me be clear. Our reformed theology never pre-empts our obedience to Jesus’ commands. Anyone who tells you that they are a good Calvinist and then tells you God’s gonna save whoever he wants to without them having to tell people the good news or going to hard places is not a good Calvinist. That person is an ignorant bum.

So, how can we be intentional?

  1. Prepare our hearts, minds, and feet

Are we motivated? Are we equipped? Are we available?

A transformed and motivated heart is the starting point.

Our intention is never to motivate you with guilt. We greatly desire that your labors be from love of the Lord Jesus and love for his people. We greatly desire that your labor be from a desire for that labor not a guilty barb.

We want to move in compassion for those who are not in the kingdom.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 “…And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Our Minds are Ready With Right Equipping

Pastor Jonathan jokes about when they first came to TRCC that he thought that all we do is talk about the gospel.

It is incumbent on us to make sure that TRCC is equipped to not only know what the gospel is but to be able to apply the metanarrative of the gospel in all domains.

If all things are being brought back under the rule of Jesus Christ, then we need to learn to think “Christianly”[3] about all things.

This also applies to our singing, our preaching, our observance of the Supper each week and our greeting of one another.

 

Our Feet Are Ready and Available

Are we welcoming to those not in the kingdom?

We must be the aroma of Christ among those who are perishing. We are to be winsome and loving and gracious and kind.

Even inside the church we are to be a welcoming people to those who are outside of the kingdom. But our function inside the church is dictated by the worship of Jesus not the assimilation of non-Christians. We want them to smell the glory of Jesus not the allure of good marketing to non-Christians.

We must not make the mistake of removing our focus on Jesus and his glory in the church in an effort to make people feel good.

The church is to be concentrated on making much of Jesus. The individuals who make up the church are to be sensitive to those Jesus is calling to himself.

In other words, all of us are to be sensitive to the person by being available to get into their skin and culture but then bring them into the culture of the kingdom to taste the immeasurably sweet gospel of Jesus Christ that they may be transformed into the culture of God’s kingdom.

We don’t assimilate a lost culture to win people. We make much of Jesus and invite people into that cloud of glory to be transformed.

  1. Understand a gospel-shaped way of life

Mack Stiles highlights, as an example, Galatians 2:1-14. Here, Peter had been hanging out with Gentiles and enjoying some Gentile goodies.

However, when some “false brothers” began to inject the false notion that people need to add circumcision to grace through faith in Jesus alone there began to be a division among the people.

So, when some Jewish Christians come to the churches of Galatia from James, Peter withdraws from the Gentiles and the enjoyment of some Gentile goodies and the Gentiles are confused over why Peter will no longer hang out with them.

There was a false notion of moral behavior that Peter had to put on in order to impress James’ boys.

Barnabas was led astray. Gentiles started thinking they needed to be like Jews in order to be ok. Chaos.

Paul rebukes Peter to his face and tells him that his behavior is not in line with the gospel.

Peter had bought a false notion of morality that we not gospel.

We must be careful to live in the gospel’s truth and in the values of the kingdom not a false morality created by a post-Christian church’s own making and not the truth of Scripture.

By the way, this is incredibly winsome to those outside the kingdom. It’s the aroma of Christ. Jesus lived in the kingdom, by it’s truths among those sick with the world system and they loved him. We can and must be like that.

Examples:

Colossians 3:13 “…forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you.”

Philippians 1:27 “…let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel…”

Matthew 20:25-28 “…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant…”

  1. Get rid of our assumptions

We must never assume the gospel. If we assume the good news we may be tempted to think that everyone who shows up with a bible and a “church” background is a Christian.

People come to us who have left chaos in their wake at other places because they confuse their opinions with orthodoxy and hurt others and unity. That won’t happen here.

We have actually discovered in our membership class that there were people of reputable churches who did not believe Jesus was God. They denied Trinitarian theology.

“That bad assumption leads to the next; there is no need to share, teach, or preach the gospel (If Jesus’ isn’t God, then why major on his message of who he is and why he came?). Over time, confusion about the gospel grows: external actions are confused with genuine Christian faith. Morality becomes an expectation and not a response of love. The cross is treated merely as an example, not the place where God’s wrath and love uniquely meet. Eventually, the gospel is lost altogether.”[4]

I have a colleague currently fighting this fight in a local church over the authority, infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture.

We assume nothing and teach everything.

We are careful with our children’s belief in the gospel. We keep the gospel message and our biblical response in front of them.

We preach the gospel.

We sing the gospel.

We pray the gospel.

When we do this we learn that the metanarrative of the gospel becomes our entire framework of decision-making.

  1. Practice evangelism as a discipline

The phrase “means of grace” is a vital phrase for the Christian. The Lord uses “means” to convey his grace, his loving kindness of him being a good Father and us being loved children, by means. Example: through Scripture, the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, a timely word spoken by a brother or sister in the fellowship.

But the disciplines of the faith are gospel pointing lightning rods of grace: prayer, bible study, gathering as a fellowship, fasting, silence and solitude and yes, even evangelism.

In prayer we see the power of God applied to kingdom advances and our faith is increased.

In bible study our minds are renewed by the work of the Spirit and we learn to see Father’s work in history and the woven together nature of God’s work recorded in Scripture and preserved in history and the providences of the Lord become precious. We learn to think like God and share his feelings on matters. We become like who we study about and linger over.

In gathering we taste the power of the gathered community and the encouragement of life together.

In fasting we see the supernatural sustaining of Father, and the humbling power of knowing we are weak and Father is strong. We taste the victory of defeating sin and healing relationships.

I silence and solitude we experience the clear voice of the Lord and the fellowship of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus in and with us.

In evangelism we see the power of the gospel to transform and we are emboldened to preach more often and we learn the ways of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and our faith is strengthened.

Evangelism is a discipline to be practiced as often as the others.

As a discipline, we learn to just do it. We learn to refine our efforts. We learn to enjoy it. We become automatic at it. We get better at it. We get efficient with it. And we’ll become well-known to the demonic hoards from it.

  1. Pray

The marvelous assumption behind prayer is that we are depending on the sovereign and powerful Father to do what we can’t, so we ask him.

We ask Father for the salvation of people because only the Spirit can regenerate and cause people to be born again.

Prayer for the lost can’t be done unless you are depending on the Lord to do for man what man can’t do for himself. And that is exactly what we are looking for. When we pray for those we are preaching the gospel to we are asking Father to overcome their unbelief, cause them to come alive, and give them faith that they may believe.

Don’t forget to pray.

Also, pray daily for opportunity. That’s a prayer the Father will answer.

  1. Lead in doing evangelism

Some Nuts and Bolts of Sharing the Faith

  1. Know the gospel message

Creation:

There is one God who is the creator of all things, including man created in God’s image. This Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is holy, just and the definition of love.

Fall:

Though we were once in fellowship with God, we are now cut off from him because of the rebellion started by our parents in the garden. The root of that rebellion was their choice not to believe God and to try to make themselves God instead. This treasonous act failed and the judgment was eternal death.

Terribly and tragically, this rebellion is passed on from generation to generation as a curse, the curse of sin and brokenness and death and all things wrong in created order. Even the dirt is now cursed.

All people inherit both the sin and the judgment. Our sin makes it impossible for us to earn our way back to Father.

Redemption:

Since we can’t earn our way back to Father and out of the curse, God the Father, being rich in mercy and eternal purpose began the work of redeeming us from the curse through revealing himself to man who once knew him face to face. The entire bible records and explains the culmination of that work of redemption in the coming of the ultimate missionary, Jesus, to break the curse and redeem us back to Father and establish his kingdom rule.

Jesus, fully God and fully man, lived perfectly and revealed Father clearly.

In the fullness of time he went to his appointed death on Roman cross as the perfect sacrifice to ransom us from the curse of the fall. Jesus paid the penalty of our sin and rose from the grave conquering death and proving that all he said and did was true. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection all those who will repent of our sin, believe this good news and follow Jesus have their sin debt cancelled and the very perfection of Jesus accounted to them so that they are adopted as Father’s children.

Restoration:

But that is not the end of the story. All those who repent and believe are given a mission to engage in taking this good news of Jesus’ rule to all nations and telling the good news that Jesus kingdom is being spread over all things and that Jesus is taking back all things from the curse of the fall, including people who will repent and believe, and he is going to return and complete the establishment of his rule in a redone and sin free created order where his people will have Eden regained and face to face fellowship fully restored forever.

  1. Remember, you are an ambassador

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

  1. Think through answering hard questions
  1. Be bold and be clear
  1. Deliver the message and trust Jesus for the response

Remember, some of us get to scatter the message. Some get to water that gospel seed planted. Some get to pick the fruit. But Father causes the increase.

How do you know if you are scattering, watering or picking fruit?

Jesus parable of the sower is helpful to me.

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 tells of a path, rocky ground, thorny ground and good soil. A sower was sowing seed and the seed hit all kinds of ground. The rocky ground never even received the seed. It was eaten by birds. The rocky ground produced an early plant, but the lack of depth caused the plant to wither when it got tough. The thorny ground received the seed and produced a plant, but the seed was choked out and no fruit was made. The good soil grew a plant and that plant began to produce fruit.

Jesus tells us that when the soil is hard and never get’s into the dirt, it’s Satan that steals the word of the gospel.

When rocky ground produces a plant and the sun scorches it away we learn that hardship causes them to walk away and never grow toward maturity.

When the thorny ground produces a plant cares and others things crowd out the gospel and there is no fruit.

But good soil, that tilled up by the regenerating work of the Spirit produces not only the plant but the fruit that the plant is intended to produce.

Here is how this helps: keep a watch out for rejection and keep a watch out for reception and then take note of the fruit of repentance and a gospel conscience and a witness of the Spirit in them with the Holy Spirit in you.

Scatter the gospel liberally and watch for the work of the Lord or the sad results of the fall, but watch what Jesus said come about. He’s in charge of the growth.

Be confident to simply do your part.

  1. Don’t lose heart

2 Corinthians 4:1

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”

We don’t lose heart because the Lord is doing the transforming from one degree of glory to another. He is the one who is advancing the work and “Generaling” the mission. We have nothing to lose heart over.

Therefore…

  1. We worship

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] We are taking all 11 points here from Mack Stiles.

[2] Quotes mine

[3] Brad Poston has coined this term in his worldview lectures.

[4] Ibid. p. 91.

Evangelism

Evangelism

 

For the next two weeks we want to ask and answer the question: what is evangelism and how can we do evangelism as a culture in a biblical and healthy way?

 

Evangelism is a word that carries negative connotations, at least to me, due to my experience, and others have similar experiences.

 

One goal I’d like for us to set is to reclaim that word as a healthy and positive and biblical word.

 

The other goal I’d like us to set is to practice evangelism as a culture not a legalistic mandate on fearful people nor is it a party for a few “gifted” people.

 

Often we cop out of the pleasure of telling the good news by bowing to our insecurities, false ideas and lies spoken to us by the enemy.

 

We are insecure because we can’t answer every objection or are not good speakers.

 

We have the false notion that evangelism is only for those gifted with the “gift” of evangelism.

 

We buy the lies of the enemy that tell us we are unworthy of doing evangelism because we sin and are not perfect and, after all, who are we to be telling someone about the gospel when we have such a hard time living in the truth.

 

Are there times when we could have tarnished our character? Sure. Must we be aware of those times? Sure. But my hunch is they are less than we might imagine and are used by the enemy to create lethargy. If we are in sin, then we need to repent, trust in the gospel for our righteousness and get after preaching.

 

Let’s toss these objections in favor of the truth: It’s our job to preach the good news and our standing is not in our merit but in the power of the cross.

 

Evangelism as a word comes from passages like Matthew 11:5 that says “…the poor have the good news preached to them.”

 

“Good news preached”, is one word “euangelidzo”. It means to bring/tell/preach good news.

 

Jesus called the message he came to bring “euangelidzo”, good news, in Luke 4:18.

 

Therefore our message is Jesus’ message of good news.

 

The question that inevitably comes up is, “what is the good news?” This is a good question because there is no single set of verses that tell us the full and authorized message of the gospel. The reason is because it’s the metanarrative of the whole bible.

 

The closest we have is 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and it says, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”

 

Key in this passage is that Christ died for sins and was buried and raised on the third day and that he appeared giving proofs of his resurrection. But note that there is a reason why Jesus died, was buried, and rose on the third day. All of these actions Jesus did are in accordance with the Scriptures. In other words, Jesus’ work in his incarnation is in agreement with the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

 

Let me say it another way. The gospel is a complete metanarrative of which Jesus is the anticipated hero who would come and be and bring the good news of a resolution to the curse from the fall through his death, burial and resurrection.

 

When we tell of Jesus to people who did not live when Jesus came the first time we need to set the nucleus of the message (his death, burial and resurrection) inside the correct setting of the entire metanarrative.

 

It is a good end to try and set the nucleus of the message inside the entire metanarrative.

 

That metanarrative is Creation / Fall / Redemption / Restoration.

 

Let me be clear. If all one can do is tell who Jesus is and that he came, died, rose, proved his resurrection and ascended to rule and will one day return, they have not failed. The Holy Spirit can take that powerful message and wreck a fallen creature into life.

 

What we strive to do is place the core message of the gospel into the setting of history so that mankind can see not only what will save them but also to inform them that they need saving and that through their saving they can find an eternal purpose in following Jesus to subdue all domains under the headship of King Jesus.

 

So, that’s the gospel / good news message.

 

Evangelism is, therefore, the telling / preaching of that good news.

 

Mack Stiles adds to his definition of evangelism the phrase “with an aim to persuade.”[1] I would agree with that.

 

We want people to know and we want them to follow Jesus.

 

However, lets keep some things in mind:

  1. Our persuasion is not in place of the Holy Spirit, whose job persuasion is

(see John 3).

  1. Our persuasion is not using fear tactics to get decisions (John 1:13).
  2. Our persuasion is in the form of invitation to repent and believe.

 

So, what is the most biblical and healthy way to go about doing evangelism today?

 

Create A Culture of Evangelism[2]

If you think it through, there is no way that we could fit every non-Christian each of us comes in contact with daily into multiple TRCC campuses. So, events that focus on simply bringing people to see or hear some special even would be less effective than each person simply telling the good news and then bringing their friends or new acquaintances, who are responding in some fashion, with them to church.

 

According to Barna 1% of those surveyed said they came to faith in Jesus through television or some type of program / media.

 

Also, according to Barna 43% said they came to faith through hearing the gospel from a friend or family member.

 

That’s pretty clear how our current climate needs to be exposed to the good news.

 

We don’t want to criticize too heavily older and past methodologies because the Father, Son and Spirit have worked in history through many means to call out the hidden people into the light of the gospel to be a treasured people of the Lord Jesus.

 

Culture is a powerful force. Culture is that unseen set of values that drive something. We know our culture of KDSC and that drives us to the mission of the glory of God local and global through being and producing radical followers of Jesus.

 

So, when talking about a culture of evangelism, we want a culture that has common biblical ideas, biblical language and shared biblical actions.[3]

 

We want our church to be a “loving community committed to sharing the gospel as part of an ongoing way of life, not the occasional evangelistic raid event.”[4]

 

We want:

 

  1. A culture motivated by love for Jesus and his gospel[5]

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

  1. A culture that is confident in the gospel

Romans 1:16

 

  1. A culture that understand the danger of entertainment

Ezekiel 33:30-32

 

  1. A culture that sees people clearly

2 Corinthians 5:16a

 

  1. A culture that pulls together as one

Philippians 1:3-5

 

  1. A culture in which people teach one another

2 Timothy 1:13

 

  1. A culture that models evangelism “passed on”[6]

2 Timothy 2:2

 

  1. A culture in which people who are sharing their faith are celebrated

Philippians 2:19-22

 

  1. A culture that knows how to affirm and celebrate new life

Colossians 1:3-4, 7

 

  1. A culture doing ministry that feels risky and is dangerous

Philippians 1:12-13

 

  1. A culture that understands the church is the chosen and best method of

evangelism

Acts 2:46-47

 

We Want to Connect A Culture of Evangelism To The Function of the Church

“A culture of evangelism is grassroots, not top down.”[7]

 

This means that in a church where there is a culture of evangelism everyone is part of everyone’s evangelistic outreach not bystanders watching the pastors do evangelism with programs.

 

Listen to the Lord Jesus:

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

 

Later on in the same setting, as he prays for the disciples and us, Jesus prays we would be unified “so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21).

 

“Jesus says the love we have for one another in the church is a statement that we are truly converted. And when we are unified in the church, we show to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Love confirms our discipleship. Unity confirms Christ’s deity. What a powerful witness!”[8]

 

When we talk about a culture of evangelism, remember that when Jesus builds his church he did not forget the good news of the kingdom. The church has built in gospel pointers in our love and unity through functioning together in the mission of the church.

 

The whole church plays a role in healthy evangelism.

 

What is the church? What are the critical parts that actually make an organization the church?

 

  1. What the church is – A local church is a gathering of baptized, born-again Christians who covenant together in love to meet regularly under the authority of the Scriptures and the leadership of the elders to worship God, be a visible image of the gospel, and, ultimately, to give God glory (John 3:1-8; 13:34-35; Acts 2:41; 14:23; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Heb. 10:24-25)[9]

 

  1. What the church does – A church must do only a few things to be a church: the people regularly gather in gospel love to hear the Word preached, sing, pray, give and practice the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Members, those who have covenanted together, lovingly care for one another (1 Cor. 12:12-26), even through the practice of church discipline (Matt. 18:15-17).[10]

 

  1. What the church’s mission is – The church is God’s strategic plan for evangelism with one overarching mission: to go to all peoples to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything Christ has commanded – including forming new churches (Matt. 28:18-20).

 

This is super simple and not intended to be complicated, but this work of the church is supernatural and hard to pull off because the church is comprised of former sinners who are learning to live in the kingdom.

 

Understanding what the church is, what it does and what its mission is provides us with the key to understanding a culture of evangelism.

 

Evangelism emanates from the church that oozes the gospel built into its form. The problem is often we create forms that neglect gospel proclamation from sources other than the preacher.

 

If one ignores the church’s definition it neglects the corporate nature of the gospel proclamation that the church makes.

 

In making disciples we are to baptize. Baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Baptism shows how Jesus death is our death and how his life is our life.

This is one reason we like to do baptisms in public and / or invite people who are interested to come and see.

 

In gathering we take the Lord’s Supper. The Supper proclaims the death of Christ until he returns.

 

When we pray we pray for the things of God.

 

When we sing, we sing of the greatness of God in the gospel and all that he has done for us.

 

When we give, we are funding the advance of the gospel through displaying that God is worthy of our sacrifice of giving and that we trust his provision.

 

Greeting people with kindness and a welcoming smile.

 

The preaching of the Word brings the gospel to bear on its hearers.

 

All parts of the body, moving together in unison, exercising their gifts creates a culture of evangelism in which every member is an effective witness through their personal telling of the gospel and those they are telling the gospel to getting to interact with others in the church to taste the supernatural kingdom through a myriad of gospel indicators.

Here are some keys to connecting a culture of evangelism to the church.

 

  1. Be a witness for the gospel.

 

  1. Be covenanted to the local church.

There is no category for a “Christian” who is not part of the local church in Scripture.

 

  1. Don’t confuse personal obedience with a mandate on the whole church.

What we mean by this is that a person’s personal conviction about sharing the gospel with certain people is not to become the pastor’s mandate or other people’s mandate.

 

Example: Everyone should hang out and do evangelism with people they don’t know.

 

Some folks are good with that and love the adventure of it, and some people are mortified at such a thing.

 

Do what you are compelled and skilled to do.

 

One should proclaim the gospel in their domain of society, invite people to come and taste the goodness of the kingdom in the church and everyone should be living obediently so that they don’t cause that person to stumble when then engage.

 

  1. Make it your aim to be completely the Lord’s instrument in every moment.

This was Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret.

 

  1. Take a long-term view of your evangelistic efforts as part of culture of evangelism.

Mark 4:26-29

 

  1. Be an active worshiper.

One of the best means of having a culture of evangelism is the active worship of each individual as part of a whole.

 

We don’t mean only the singing of songs, but the whole experience of being present, pleasantly greeting one another, anticipating the start of corporate worship, singing with gusto, rightly approaching the Lord’s Supper, greeting each other with the reminder of the peace of the Lord through the reconciling work of the cross, listening attentively to the word, responding in song with joy, ministering to each other with our gifts in RL groups and in all this being an aroma of Christ to those who are perishing.

 

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

[1] Mack Stiles, Evangelism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), p. 26.

[2] Each of these main points are adapted from Mack Stiles’ book referenced above.

[3] Ibid. p. 47.

[4] Ibid. p. 47.

[5] We are taking all 11 points here from Mack Stiles.

[6] Quotes mine

[7] Ibid. p. 65.

[8] Ibid. p. 63.

[9] Ibid. p. 71.

[10] Ibid. p. 71.