A Reason to Leave a Church


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     We know that Jesus’ ministry on this earth lasted three years. In three years he took common men; we know that one betrayed him; but with eleven men he literally changed the world. In John 14:12 Jesus speaks about the greater things that we are called to do. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (KJV) The word works here is the Greek Word, ἔργον literally meaning, “To work. Work, performance, the result or object of employment, making or working. Labor, business, employment, something to be done.”[1]

     Salvation is not depended on works. Christians are not going to be subject to the Great White Throne Judgment of God over the lack of works (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne Judgment is the final verdict on who is going to hell and who will spend eternity with the Father. We will, however, be subject to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (KJV)

     The word accepted in verse nine is the Greek word euárestos, meaning, “Well–pleasing, acceptable.”[2] Again, this is not an issue of salvation and this is not an issue of love; this is the Bible encouraging us to live our lives in a way that it is pleasing before the Lord. Which means that we also have the ability to displease the Lord with our actions. We must understand that we were created for good works according to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Each one of us as Christians have things to do.

     This takes me to begin to address the heart of this article. Let me start with a couple question, 1) what does soldiers train for, what is the goal of their training? Can a soldier spend five, ten, fifteen plus years and never be ready for deployment in times of war? Would they even make it that long in the armed forces without being ready for battle? The Bible describes us as soldiers in many direct and indirect ways.[3] In 2 Timothy 2:4 tells us, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (NKJV) We are soldiers for Christ and we are called to please the Father and as Christians, we will be judge for what we do or not do for him.

     The church has a Biblical obligation to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.[4] This is not a game or a recommendation; the church has an obligation to train his people and get them ready for deployment. A.B. Bruce offered three stages of discipleship in his classic book, The Training of the Twelve, 1) Declaration, 2) Development and 3) Deployment. Early and Dempsey illustrated these three stages in a diversity of ways. Declaration asks will you believe in Jesus? Development asks will you follow Jesus and Deployment asks will you go for Jesus?[5] The first step is identified with coming to Jesus, the second step is identified with being with Jesus and the third step is going for Jesus.[6]

    I have seen countless times, the church’s failure to properly disciple and get God’s people ready to go for Jesus. Statistics show the hypocrisy and the indifference that many churches truly have for the Great Commission. In 2015 Barna found that nine out of every ten Christians recognized that discipleship is important.[7] However, 52% of church leaders believed that the most effective method of discipleship is to be done individually.[8] The same study showed that when asking the congregation concerning how they prefer to be disciplined, the clear majority, 37%, preferred to be disciplined on their own.[9] These statistics are not only alarming but they are also showing the true condition and attitudes of the church towards discipleship and a diabolical trend to redefine, secularize and come up with new ideas of discipleship that are a far cry from the biblical mandate.

     The local church fights hard to retain its members; the church is finding satisfaction in the size and beauty of the building and the number of members, while totally ignoring our ultimate call as disciple makers who are responsible for getting God’s people ready for deployment. This sad reality often forces mature believers out of local churches. Beloved, there is only so much you can do in a building; there is not enough to do inside the four walls you call church. We must prepare our people to go for Jesus. If you have been a Christian for more than three years and, I know some of you have been a Christian for 5, 10 and 15 plus years, and you are not ready for deployment, your local church failed you miserably. That miserable church failure is also making many of you miserable, as you are not experiencing the joy of doing what God has called you to do (Matthew 25:14-29).

     I am asking you to reconsider what you are and not doing for Jesus. Christ will judge you and me for our good works, bad works and/or lack of works. No pastor on earth has the authority to hold you back from doing your part for the kingdom of God. His main responsibility is to train you, to get you ready and to deploy you to go for Jesus. If he is training you, but you are not ready, that is one thing, but if he is not doing so, get out of there! We are called to obey God above men. On this earth nobody has the authority to stop us from preaching the gospel to the lost and, nobody has the authority to stop us from doing good works. Jesus stated,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

For many of you reading these words… it is time to GO FOR JESUS!

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Ephesians 6:11-17 and 2 Timothy 2:3

[4] Ephesians 4:12

[5] Dave Early and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, 58-60

[6] Ibid., 60

[7] Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 44

[8] Ibid., 49

[9] Ibid., 44

Taking a Closer Look at The Great Commission


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I have always seen the Great Commission as an evangelistic commission and even as it is evangelistic, that is just a part of it. Lets take a closer look at Matthew 28:19-20,

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (KJV)

         These were Jesus’ last words before he ascended to heaven; they are of extreme importance. A few things are established here that we must pay attention to:

  1. Jesus reminds us that He is in charge: All authority was given to Him. It is important to understand that no matter how bad or hopeless a situation may look like. It does not matter how unpopular Jesus becomes on this earth; He is in charge! (Verse 18).
  2. We have a mandate to go and do some specific things: We have a mandate to teach all of the nations: The word nation here is the word éthnos; meaning, “A multitude, people, race, belonging and living together.[1] It is where we get the English word ethnic. This is the reason why racism should never exist in the church. Any racist group that claims to be a Christian is operating directly against the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are supposed to be reaching out to everybody! The focus of the Great Commission is to TEACH and not just teach anything, the Great Commission is very specific in what we are suppose to be teaching.
  • Teach ALL of what Jesus commanded (Verse 19). We know that all of the law hangs on two commandments, to love God above all things and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.[2] However, Jesus is not leaving us on the air when it comes down to his commandments. He is showing us, very clearly, through the gospels, what this two commandments look like as we walk them out in our own lives.
  • Teach the disciples how to observe all that Jesus commanded. (Verse 20) It is not only about teaching what this commandments are, but to also teach how to apply them in our dally walk. This is not only about head knowledge; application is a must!
  1. Nothing can be left out; we must go through the gospels, take a look at the red letters and go over every single command given by Jesus. Yes, we have a long way to go! And… Yes, we have a lot of work to do!

         These can be a wonderful personal study where you, individually, can go through the Gospels and write down all that Jesus commanded us to do. However, there are a few brothers and sisters out there that have put a list together. Here I give you few links I have personally found: http://www.trusting-in-jesus.com/Commandments-of-Jesus.html, http://iblp.org/questions/what-are-commands-christ, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Commandments_of_Christ. Also, John Piper has a book entitle, What Jesus Demands From the World.

         I am convinced that is there is something that is going to absolutely transform the church and get us back on track is a detailed, passionate and anointed teaching about what the Great Commission really means. Jesus said in John 8:31, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”

         See, the problem is that 1) We don’t know what Jesus is commanding, we know he told us to love God above all things and our neighbor as we love ourselves, but we don’t have any clue what that looks like specifically. 2) Teaching is not about head knowledge only; teaching goes beyond head knowledge and into actually teaching folks how to apply these things. That requires more than a weekly class; it actually requires that we hang out together and look at each other’s lives.

         In all we must understand that a church will never prosper spiritually if is not TEACHING. We can talk about vision, mission, giving, how to be bless, what we are going to do; we can wait for the next new thing, the next off the wall revelation, the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, etc. but here Jesus is telling us what we need to be teaching specifically. Now, this does not mean that we don’t teach the Old Testament or anything else in the Bible. We are called to teach the whole counsel of God[3], but we must start at what Jesus is directly commanding. The totality of the Great Commission is the start. The Great Commission involves both, evangelism and teaching.

         I don’t know about you, but I am excited about this teaching and the application of this teaching in my life, the life of my children and the local church that I am a part of. Lets GO!!!!

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Matthew 22:37-40

[3] Acts 20:27