This post is derived from some friendly correspondence with a friend. As I re-read it I see many things that may be useful to my readers and me. It is slightly edited to “protect the innocent” and remove some chaff.
First, please realize, I am an OLD, retired conservative, theologically narrow-minded preacher. I prefer the KJV version of the Bible (with good reason which I may discuss at a later date) and I prefer the old-time traditional Gospel hymns to the new repetitive stuff that is often called “Gospel Worship Music.”
Next, some have called me an evangelist. I don’t think of myself as an evangelist — just a witness for my Savior Jesus Christ. I was neither born as a witness nor “born-again” as a witness, it is not inherent. Evangelism is a gift, to witness is a request from the Lord.
Not too long after I trusted Christ as my Savior I was devastated because, my eyes being opened, I saw my family and friends lost and without Christ. I made the effort to study God’s Word and yearned to learn how to share it. I understood and believed 2 Timothy 215. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. I didn’t know at the time, but that is the way the Lord intends it. Learn it, use it and learn more and use it more, etc. Never stop studying and using God’s Word.
2 Timothy 22 “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
I also realized I was only one person. I began to see that I should try to take those who trusted Christ and teach them to study the Word and lead others to Christ, and then teach them to win others, etc, ad infinitum.
Ephesians 411 “And He gave some [to be], apostles; and some [to be], prophets; and some [to be], evangelists; and some [to be], pastors and teachers;“
My understanding is that the Lord never gave some to be bystanders. We also see that Paul and other disciples manifested ALL of the traits above, Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They did not specialize in “areas of study” but in the whole Counsel of God.
In my position as Pastor of a church, I was also an evangelist (or witness) and a teacher. There is nothing in any of these verses that limits any one person to just one of the positions or duties — nor does it absolve any believer from being a witness or evangelist.
All of this is summed up in Ephesians 412 “For the perfecting [complete finishing or maturing] of the saints, for the work [labor or toil] of the ministry, for the edifying [building up, increase] of the body of Christ [the True Church]”
It has been said that maturity includes the ability to reproduce spiritually, to introduce people to the Savior so they experience the new birth.
I personally believe that maturity not only includes the ability to reproduce — but reproducing new believers is the main purpose of believers and the Church, thereby ultimately Glorifying God. Christ said, talking to His disciples, in John 158 “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit [plucked fruit]; so shall ye be my disciples.” The fruit of a believer is another believer. An inactive believer will bear no fruit. A church full of inactive believers will still bear no fruit. So we encourage the Body of Christ (The True Church) to become active winning souls for the Savior, bearing fruit!
Often we see this verse used to accomplish some sort of ecumenicism.
Ephesians 413 “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ“
None of us will see a “unity of the faith” in this world. Even in Paul’s day there was disunity. We see him addressing the Galatian works error, the Corinthian immorality and doctrinal error. Jude addressed problems of false teachers, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Think about it. The dear believers, family and friends whom we have known and loved — those who are today in the presence of Jesus Christ in Heaven, know in full that ultimate unity of the faith.
A believer who strives to be the “perfect” (mature) man and fit to “the stature of the fullness of Christ” is preparing himself and others for being in the presence of our Savior. How? By leading others to the Savior — by studying and using God’s Word and edifying (building up) the Body with new believers.
It is an amazing thing to see how witnessing builds my faith and joy every time I have an opportunity to share my Savior with someone, whether the lost or simply encouraging another believer.
Likewise, I believe the whole Bible is written (1) to the unbeliever so he can trust Christ (2) to the believer so he will understand how he should live his life in order to be able to reproduce much fruit to Glorify God. That is how we learn to worship the Lord. Without being a believer, one cannot worship the Lord. John 424 “God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Only believers in Christ can worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.
Every jot and tittle of God’s Word is there for the purpose of building up (edifying) and increasing the True Church, the Body of Christ. That is why I believe it is important that we “study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman...” Can you imagine a church who purports to “worship” the Lord and not regularly give a consistently clear Gospel message and likewise not ask people to trust Christ as Savior — or never encourage anyone to share Christ with church visitors or their lost friends and neighbors?
As mentioned above, the book of Jude was written to warn the flock that godless and evil men had crept into the assemblies. Jude’s answer about how to correct the problem?? Jude 13 “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH which was once delivered unto the saints.” Contending for the faith.. that is the root that supports and nourishes the Church.
Someone paraphrased Ephesians 4:15-16 as “The whole body, growing, maturing, joined and held together, truth in love (as opposed to the truth OR love we contend with all the time nowadays), each one doing his work.” Look carefully and you will see that there is nothing in these or previous verses that indicate that a Pastor or Teacher should not also be an evangelist (or simply sharing his faith). When we become too specialized in our service, we begin to think “That is someone else’s job.” Not true. Remember — the lost don’t care who it was that lead them to Christ, a layman, preacher, teacher or janitor. Again in Jude 13 “…… exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith...”
There is no disagreement that worshipful reverence is essential for a Godly church. It is also very important that any worship leader, any Pastor and all the members do not confine their service to “group witness,” believing that, at the end of the service, the job is finished. Everyone should be ready to share Christ at any and every moment with anyone “that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” Or, even if they don’t ask, a believer can share Christ!
I have been asked. “How should the wandering ship of the Church of our Savior be turned around.”
Believers in Jesus Christ must first see the problem and want a solution. That is a big order.
Many things are essential in the Body of Christ, sound doctrine, teamwork, elimination of fragmentation, solving immaturity by teaching those who want to learn and encourage those who don’t think they need to learn. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the center-point, the reason. The Lord, using dedicated, soulwinning people can “turn this ship around.”
Another question has been asked, “Is it that we’ve lost our first love?”
My experience tells me that many Bible believing churches have lost their first love. 1 John 410 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Our first love is the love and excitement we have when we realize we have passed from death to life, not because we “loved God.” but because He first loved us and we understood that love and trusted Christ as our Savior. Some believers who trusted Christ at an early age may not remember that First Love, that excitement and appreciation. But such love for our Savior can be renewed by strong Biblical Gospel preaching and Scriptural encouragement.
Will the True Church ever be “ready” for our Savior’s certain return?
I believe the True Church will go up in the Rapture when Jesus returns for all believers. Some believers will still be squabbling over “things,” but all that will dissolve when we see Jesus Christ in person. We should all be personally looking and expecting His return today, maybe even before this comment is posted. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
We worship the Lord many ways in our fellowships today. When we are with the Lord in Heaven we will worship Him as we really should, not man’s way, but God’s way. However, one thing we must remember — the single thing we can not do when we are in Heaven with the Lord — is witness to the lost for our Savior Jesus Christ.. Why? Because — everyone there will be believers.
So today, let us get about our Father’s business and share the Glorious Gospel of our Savior. An individual or a church which is on fire to see souls saved will be less likely to quibble over unessential details and more likely to grow spiritually.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the death penalty for the sins of the whole world (you and me), He was buried and rose again, not only for me but likewise for all my friends — and my enemies. How can we truly show love for our friends and enemies? — by sharing with them the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.