Biblical Church Growth

Spurgeonevangelism
Q. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

There are four means that God has ordained to grow His Church. They are, Evangelism (sharing the gospel), Discipleship (training and teaching the new believer) Service, (Helping the hurting and dying world) and persecution. People only become converted from hearing and responding to the gospel. They grow closer to God, and get to know Him by reading His word, and learning His truth. The new heart and nature of a convert is on display in the world humbly serving the lost and dying, displaying the glory of God. Persecution weeds out the false converts, and demonstrates another truth, the world hated Christ, and they will hate you also for His namesake. The exclusivity of the cross is offensive to the world. Remember persecution comes from outside the Church.

Who goes to Church, and why? This is important to figure out, if you are concerned that your congregation is dying. One category of people is false converts. Some of them know they are not Christian, some believe they are Christians. Lost people have a few reasons why they go to Church. Of those reasons, none of them are the right ones. They go to Church to get a pep talk, a self-help speech, they go for professional and social networking, they go to feel good about themselves, (self-righteousness) they go to be entertained by a slick, “praise/worship band. We can agree that these are not the right reasons to go to Church. So what are?

If you are a true convert, you know your purpose in life is to bring glory to the Lord of salvation. You’ve been brought to new life by grace, through faith. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. You know you were purchased at a price, and the Lord of Creation suffered humiliation and death on a cross, in your place because of your sins. Christ became sin for you. You come to Church because it is God’s will. From your new nature you want to do God’s will. After all, He is changing your desires and affections by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the reading of His word. Our minds are being renewed so we can prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. You come to be with brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear the word of God expositorily preached, to sing praises to God, to worship Him in prayer, and song, to be baptized, and have communion, and to be sanctified by God in learning to live in community with other sinners, and by granting them grace, to live out the gospel for the glory of the Lord.

Who is church for, the goats or the sheep? Church is ultimately for the glory of God, and that glory is for our good. God says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Church is for the sheep. They are the ones who really want to go for the right reasons. When God says in Matthew 16, “…I will build my Church…” we also see the means He has ordained for the growth. He is going to use us to preach the gospel to the lost and dying world, because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Salvation is of the Lord. It originates with Him. It is provided by Him. Jonathan Edwards once said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” Even persecution is given for the growth of the Church. If there are false converts in the local body, when persecution comes, they will flee, and deny Christ. The truly converted will stay, and proclaim the gospel, and make disciples even during persecution.

What is the gospel? Simply put, “Repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have to unpack that for sure. It shouldn’t be a daunting task for us. It should be something that overflows from the heart of a believer, as they have experienced the love and grace of Jesus. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Most people don’t share it, because they are woefully ignorant of what it is.

Here is a simple analogy. Imagine you are a telling a class full of students who want to become mechanics that you are a mechanic, but you leave out the fact that you don’t understand how an engine works. Then when the students ask you how the engine works you mumble and string together things you’ve heard mechanics say. You wouldn’t feel very comfortable or sure of yourself would you?

Believers should feel confident and comfortable sharing the gospel. It is imperative that they learn how to do so, and that they do it. People are entering eternity without Christ. They will rise to eternal torment and burning, having the very wrath of God poured out on them. How can we say we have love, if we refuse to give them the gospel?

Ask some of your congregation “imagine I just was stabbed, and only have moments to live. I am afraid of dying and going to Hell, and I say, “What must I do to be saved?” You can’t tell them to be a good person, they are dying. You can’t tell them it is by baptism, they only have moments to live. What can you tell them? You can preach the gospel to them. You can say, “You are afraid of hell, and rightfully so. You are a sinner. Just like me, you have broken God’s laws, and deserve His just wrath, but being rich in mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect, sinless, life that we couldn’t live. Jesus was and is righteous. He humbly offered Himself up on the cross, He submitted to death on the cross according to the will of the Father, where the wrath of God was poured out on Him in our place, so that the justice of God could be satisfied. When He was finished atoning for our sin, He said, “It is finished.” He died, was buried and resurrected on the third day. If you’ll repent, or turn from your sins, forsake them, hate them, and ask God to forgive you based on the work of Jesus, He will save you from your sins, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Will you confess your sins to God and trust in Jesus?”

Friendship evangelism is impractical. The Christian should have a fervent urgency to share the gospel with the lost so they can be saved. Friendship evangelism is slow, and you can only befriend so many people at a time. The need is great, and the workers are few. The command is not to preach to a few, but to all, and we need to get busy.

Remember the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is offensive because they are confronted with the righteousness, and exclusivity of Christ. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”

Don’t compromise on the gospel. If we soften the gospel to make it more appealing to the lost, we rob it of its effectiveness. If it were readily acceptable to the reprobate sinner, it is because it doesn’t require rebirth for him to believe it. The only way to grow the true church is by the means that God has ordained evangelism, discipleship, service, and persecution.

What needs to happen so we can do this? Free up Elders who are gifted and able to preach and teach the gospel to the laymen, and to teach them how to evangelize. Organize them, to go out and evangelize. When people are converted they will look for a Church. It doesn’t matter if you put more people in the seats at your Church. We don’t do this to grow our kingdoms, but rather the kingdom of God. New converts will come in. When they do, be ready to teach them from God’s word. Don’t feed them cotton candy theology, sermonettes, or topical sermons that are more self-help than the word of God. Take your position in the pulpit seriously. Get them grounded in God’s word because when persecution comes they will need to know the hows and whys of it. Get them out there serving the lost and dying world out of the new love they have in their hearts.  Equip them to go out and share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Systematic Theology Study Bible from Crossway, in E.S.V. Black Genuine Leather, and the Hardcover Edition.

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I am giving away a hardcover edition of this Bible.

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The Systematic Theology Study Bible from Crossway, is a different kind of Study Bible.  It isn’t really accurate to call it a reference Bible, or a Study Bible.  It is technically a study Bible in the sense that it has study aids in it, but it looks more like a reference Bible with a systematic theology book blended in with it.

For my conservative paedobaptist friends, you’ll notice the notes seem to be in favor of credobaptism.  For my friends who don’t believe in God’s sovereign election, you’ll notice the notes don’t agree with you.

Some people would like it if a broad range of theologians worked on this Bible, but they didn’t 🙂  It was mostly Reformed Baptists, and conservative Presbyterians, from what I gathered reading the list of men involved with writing the theology articles.

Contributors:

  • Gregg Allison
  • Bruce Ashford
  • Gerald Bray
  • Bryan Chapell
  • Graham Cole
  • David Dockery
  • John Frame
  • Michael Horton
  • Kelly Kapic
  • Michael Kruger
  • Robert Letham
  • Donald Macleod
  • Chris Morgan
  • Stephen Nichols
  • J. I. Packer
  • Michael Reeves
  • Fred Sanders
  • Sam Storms
  • Scott Swain
  • Stephen Wellum
  • David Wells

The systematic theology seems to lean towards a general Reformed position, which is good, because… well, I think it is the right position lol. 🙂  I think any person who affirms the reformed position on soteriology will be appreciative of this Bible and the articles in it.  It is broad in appeal to people who are reformed.  It might not get all of your more nuanced secondary, or tertiary doctrines just the way you want them, but we will all be in accord over the treatment of the primary ones.  I can definitely see the Reformed Baptist position reflected in the work.

There is basically a mini systematic theology book in the back of the Bible along with some other very useful features.  Here is a list of features you’ll find;

“Double-column, paragraph format

  • Footnotes
  • Book intros
  • Topical index of sidebars
  • Cross-references
  • 400+ doctrinal summaries explaining core doctrines and connecting them to specific Bible passages
  • 25+ longer articles on key theological topics
  • Lifetime guarantee on leather and TruTone editions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Packaging: J-Card (Hardcover); Box (Genuine Leather and TruTone)”

When we look at most study Bibles they either are one man’s theology, like the Ryrie, Scofield, and MacArthur, or they are a compilation of a wide range of theologies like the massive ESV, NIV, Thomas Nelson NKJV study Bibles. The last three are humongous study Bibles with a little bit of everything. The Systematic Theology Study Bible is a neat hybrid. It isn’t one man’s theology, or a broad, neither here nor there conglomeration of positions. (Excluding the ESV which does a great job.) It is from the reformed position. The theology is systematic, which means that it is harmonized. Verses are not put against verses. They are all contextually harmonious.

You’ll find book introductions and outlines before each book.  You’ll also notice that the Bible looks a lot like a Cross Reference Bible.  It seems to me that Crossway integrated their systematic theology features into the Bible very well.  The articles are relevant to the scriptures they appear with, and are indexed in the back along with several theological articles.

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This Crossway Bible was packaged well and delivered in a cardboard box.  The Bible was in a two piece retail box.  You should always keep the retail boxes for storing your Bibles in if you are swapping it out with another one to read for a while.
DSCN6639 The cover is black genuine leather with a perimeter groove.  DSCN6641

DSCN6644 The spine is decorated with the ESV logo at the top, then, “Systematic Theology Study Bible.”  English Standard Version at the bottom, with Crossway’s logo hot stamped in gold colored foil.  DSCN6642

The page edges are also gold gilt.  There are yellow and black, head and tail bands, and one black ribbon marker.
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The cover is joined to the text block via case binding.  The spine is sewn for superior flexibility, and durability.

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In the front of the Bible there is a presentation page, and some family records pages.
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If you look at the copyright page, you’ll be pleased to see this edition was printed and bound in the United States.

DSCN6655 The book introductions are well done. I found them to be informative, and concise, but not to a fault. DSCN6662

DSCN6663 Cross references and footnotes, along with the systematic theology articles are found at the bottom of the page to save space. The text is laid out in a double column, paragraph format. DSCN6664

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The main font is an easy to read 9 pt. Lexicon, and the features are an 8 pt. Gotham, printed crisply on 30 g.s.m. Apple Thin Opaque paper. The paper is smooth, and offers a decent contrast, and due to its color reduces eyestrain.

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If you don’t already own one of these, you should get one. It is a times saver if you are intending to read a systematic theology book. You can kill two birds with one stone. It is available from Crossway, Amazon, or Christianbook for a very fair price.

Since you stuck around for the entire review, if you comment on this review, and ask to be in the running for the hardback copy of this Bible I will select a winner out of those who commented.  Be sure to check back so I can get your mailing address.  I will only mail this to an address in the U.S.
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ISBN-13: 9781433553394

A Short Article on Christology.

 

  1. The Son always was.  His being never, not existed as the eternal Son, the second personage of the one triune God. The Son is not a created being.  He did not come into existence.  He has always been. (Eternality of the Son)
  2. Everything that exists, exists because it was brought into existence by the preincarnate Christ Jesus.  He was not diminished by creating.  He created everything out of nothing. (Ex nihilo)
  3. The Son needs nothing that He doesn’t already poses in the Godhead.  His being is not predicated on any other external sources, or origins. (Aseity of God)
  4. The incarnation was the joining of the nature of God with the nature of man, except the fallen nature that is a slave to sin.  This was accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit, forming a body inside Mary, for Christ Jesus.  The two natures were perfectly joined without mingling their essences in what is called by theologians the, “hypostatic union.”  This was necessary for Christ to be our stand in, substitute for the punishment of sin, and so that it could be accomplished.  A mere man would have died after tasting the slightest moment of the wrath of God, which he so justly deserves.  This is why Jesus had to be God.  Colossians 2:9, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,”  He had to be a man because God is eternal and immutable.  God does not die, nor does He change.  If Christ were solely God, He could not have died for our sins, nor could He have experienced the wrath of God. (Incarnation, Kenosis, Hypostatic Union, Penal Substitutionary Atonement, & Immutablity)
  5. Jesus never sinned.  He obeyed all of God’s will, because He is God.  He was, and is righteous. (Righteousness of Christ, God incarnate)
  6. Jesus not only took our place, and punishment, He was punished as if He had committed all of the sins that we are guilty of.
  7. Jesus is our righteousness.  If a person will repent from their sins, and believe in the work of Christ to atone for their sins on the cross, then His righteousness is imputed to them.  They are seen by God to possess the righteousness of the Son. (Imputed Righteousness)
  8. Jesus fulfills the prophecies of scripture in regards to Himself, the Messiah.
  9. The Bible is called the word of God.  In the Old and New Testaments we read that Word of God is also referred to as the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son, the Christ Jesus. We also read that the Word was made flesh.  Jesus quotes His words from the Old Testament, in His rebukes and arguments, recorded in the New Testament.  All of the Bible is theopneustos, (θεόπνευστος) or God breathed.  It is the mind of Christ that we may know Him, by the illumining of the Spirit, according to the Father’s will.
  10. The Son condescended from the majesty of Heaven, to Earth and a joining of Himself in the man Jesus, at the incarnation.  He demonstrated humility by humbly uniting Himself at the incarnation in the form of man and becoming a servant. (Kenosis)
  11. Jesus, as the God/Man was truly tempted.  He was also assailed by Satan.  Satan through every temptation he could at Jesus to entice Him to sin.  Jesus did not sin.  Under all of that stress, He remained sinless. (Impeccability of Christ)
  12. Christ ultimately died, after He completely paid for all of the sin of those who would be saved.  He experienced death, and was buried. He is man.
  13. Christ was resurrected back to life.  He laid it down voluntarily, and picked it up again by His own power.  He is God.
  14. Christ ascended and was exalted.  He makes intercession for us now with the Father.  He functions as our one and only Priest.  That is why we have no human Priests. He is our one and only Prophet, who gave us the scriptures.  He is our King, who rules us.  We must submit to Him.
  15. Jesus will return to conquer the forces of satan once and for all.  He is a conquering warrior King who returns in glory.

This is just a short articl