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.

A Snyder’s Soapbox Review of, “When my Ox Gores my Neighbor: Using Hermeneutics to Travel from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion” by Josiah Nichols.

oxgore.jpeg

I was contacted by a mutual friend to do this review. Up until that point I had not heard of Josiah Nichols. This would be the first work that I have read of his. It might also be his first published work. It isn’t a long book, nor is it a book that requires a seminary education to read. The author’s purpose is to demonstrate how he employs hermeneutics to interpret, and derive applications from Exodus 21:28-32. The book is very evangelistic. I would say that it has been far more evangelistic than many theological books that I’ve recently read.

From reading the title, and the author’s intended goal treating the topic of hermeneutics, I expected a more in depth primer on hermeneutics, and a demonstration of the analytical methods of hermeneutics on the cited verses. While the author accomplished this goal, I think occasionally the author also got a little lost in some peripheral details.

It is also evident that the author is a big fan of Wretched Radio/TV and their work. Todd Friel is the host of the programs as well as the podcast. The people over there at Wretched have put out a number of very useful videos, and educational products. Josiah refers to, “Hermen Who?” numerous times throughout the book. Wretched should thank him for the plug 🙂 I liked both the book, and Wretched. I am a big fan of their work to, so I share that with the author.

The questions I consider for book purchases are, is it theologically accurate, and will it add value to the individual’s Christian library? That’s it. That’s how simple it is for me to decide, “yes” or “no” for a book. The answer to the first question is, yes this book is good and accurate if you are Reformed in your soteriology. If you are not, it is still accurate, and you are the one with the problem lol.  As far as value goes, it does add value to your library as a resource to loan out. This book is evangelistic. I would feel good handing this to someone who is new in the faith. It will teach them a bit about hermeneutics, and much more about other doctrines of God.

After reading it, I am still hard pressed to categorize this book, or write a more fitting title. The author does analyze Exodus 21:28-32. He does so accurately. He did not twist the scripture, or impose a meaning on it that was not intended by the author of scripture. It would be educational for a new Christian. I believe that was his intended audience. I look forward to seeing Josiah’s future projects. I think we will see bigger and better works from him. He was precise and nuanced without being rhetorical. Some theological books for laymen seem as if the authors had forgotten who their audience was. If Josiah reads this, “Keep up the good work.” You can pick up a copy of his book at Amazon, Christianbook, or Westbow to name a few. It can be purchased from many other online book retail sites.

ISBN-13: 978-1512782530

Addiction, Compulsion, and Sin.

pilgrim's progress burden

We, knowing our own sin, and the power of temptation to keep drawing us in. We should be the first to have mercy, and demonstrate grace to others who don’t even know the Savior. Just like us, they know in their hearts, they don’t deserve mercy or grace from us or God.

The Word of God says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB) Romans 5:8”

Some of us know addiction. There is a compulsion to do something that goes against every intent of our minds, but is so overwhelming. With obese people it is the compulsion to overeat. With drug/alcohol addicts, they need the high/drunk. With adulterers they crave what they shouldn’t have. With the homosexual/porn addict/pervert, they want what is wrong. How can they know freedom from their sin, and the punishment of it? How can they fight against it? How can we preach the gospel if we are only condemning them?  How can they ever know forgiveness if we only act in as self-righteous hypocrites?  

” Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any  affection and compassion,  make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from  selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but  emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB) Philippians 2:1-11

So be like Christ to the world.  People are suffering in hopelessness, resigned to the notion that they will forever be a slave to their addictions, compulsions, and sins.  Do the most loving thing, and preach the gospel of Jesus to them.  

If they hear the gospel and get saved, what do they do if the temptations are still there? What does it mean if they sin again, and their hearts are being broken each time they give in to what the compulsion to sin is driving them to?

The gospel can set them free from their sinful compulsions. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but through repentance and faith, God will sanctify them, and give them victory over their sinful compulsions. His grace is sufficient. How long are you willing to stay in the fight against your sin? How many times are you willing to allow the shame and guilt to drive you to the feet of Christ to ask Him to forgive you?  Don’t give up on coming to Him.  Don’t let your loss of a battle, or many battles shake your faith in Jesus.  He has won the victory for us.  Trust in His victory.  

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. “(NASB) Philippians 1:6

God will forgive everyone who repents of their sin, and believes in the work of Jesus Christ alone. Don’t trust in your own righteousness, because it is filthy to God. Don’t trust in your good deeds, because they are tainted by your sin. Don’t trust in ceremony or rituals, they just tire you out. Trust in the God/Man Jesus Christ. He will demonstrate grace to you based on His love and goodness, not on any thing you might think deserves favor from Him.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (NASB) 1 John 1:9-10

May God grant you faith to believe in the work of the Savior, and repentance from sin. Put your faith in His finished work, and trust only in Jesus for your salvation. God will deal with you sins and justify you. He will keep dealing with your sins, and sanctify you. He will finally deal with your sins, and give you a glorified body to live with Him forever. In that eternal life you will never desire sin again. You will finally be free to only the will of God without temptation.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified  by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved  by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (NASB) Romans 5:8-11

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (NASB) 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (NASB) Romans 1:16-17

So live by faith!  Believe that Jesus will do what He says.  Believe He is who the Bible says He is.  Believe the gospel, the good news preached in his name.  He will demonstrate His grace to you if you repent and put your faith in Him.

Why do Calvinists Evangelize?

Spurgeonevangelism

  1.  God commands it in His word. Mark 16:15 (NASB) 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2.  He ordains the ends and the means.
  3.  At that moment in time, it is not apparent to us who is among the elect.  If we share the gospel with a person who is among the elect, but it is not their due time to be regenerated, then they will reject the gospel.  If it is their time, they will respond with repentance and faith, that are also granted by God.  If we share the gospel with a person who is not among the elect, no matter when in their life they hear it, they will never respond with true repentance and faith.  Even a person who is not among the elect could affirm the gospel intellectually, but never be truly converted.

If people would look into the history of modern evangelism, they would see that many of the memorable evangelists have been Calvinists.

Calvinist Evangelists

  1.   The Apostle Paul 🙂
  2.   George Whitefield
  3.   David Brainerd
  4.   William Carey
  5.   Charles Spurgeon
  6.   C.T. Studd
  7.   Jonathan Edwards
  8.   Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  9.   Francis Schaeffer
  10.   Francis Chan

Just to name a few.  Oh, and before you get all persnickety and claim that some of the people on the list were Pastors, or theologians, remember they also evangelized.  Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  While we are at it, we all are sinners.  We have broken God’s laws and are guilty.  Repent from your sins.  Turn from them and obey God’s word.  Believe on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He atoned for your sin.  Don’t put your faith in your own efforts or works to save you.  You can never satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness, but Jesus did.  His righteousness can be credited to you if you will repent and trust in Him.

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam?

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam? I mean, seriously… Why would anyone take a half naked picture of themselves, use it as a facebook profile picture, and then ask people with no obvious connections to be their friend? Have I got a solution for you! Just copy the following gospel presentation, open your favorite word processing app, paste it, and save it. The next time you get a spammy request, just copy and paste the text into a message to that person. If genuine request, they will get the gospel. If it is a spammy request, they will get the gospel. It is a win all the way around. ***begin copying here***
You have sent me a friends request. I don’t know you. Why should I accept your request? Did you know that all people are sinners. We have all sinned against God, by breaking His laws. By nature we are His enemies. The Bible says that none are good, and we are all storing up wrath against us for the day of judgment. Do you know how to be forgiven? Do you want to be right with God so that He will know you and you will know Him? You must repent of your sins, and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. God made for Himself a body in the womb of the virgin. He came into His creation as fully God and fully Man. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. He went to the cross without guilt. He bore our sins on the cross. He took our punishment there. For all who would be saved, He paid their penalty, and justified them to God. He did this for the glory of God, and because He loved us. He atoned for our sins. We must repent, or turn from our sins, and trust in the righteous work of Jesus on the cross to atone for us. We must not trust in our own works. The Bible tells us that God sees our best works of righteousness as, “filthy rags.” Instead we trust in the perfect work of Jesus on the cross. When we do that, the Holy Spirit will come into us and bring us to new life spiritually. We will be born again, and He will start conforming us to the word and likeness of Jesus. Have you repented and trusted the Savior? www.needgod.com

If you don’t respond to this message I will report this as a spam account.

Hell.

lake-fire
Hell, being in the presence of the one true God, perfectly holy, pouring out His righteous and just wrath upon you, that of which you built up for yourself during your life. Where there is complete darkness. No hope of illuminating light. In the presence of God without hope of being in communion with Him. A bottomless pit, feeling that horror of a step missed before an eternal fall, perpetual descent in darkness. All that can be heard is the wailing and gnashing of teeth. All your fellow denizens suffering their own rewards for inequity for all eternity. A fire that burns your being that never consumes you, but persists in torturous torment. The next moment is worse than all before it. How long have you been here in this place? Has it been a moment? Has it been a year, or one thousand? Why didn’t you heed their warnings? Why did you believe some of them when they told you Hell was just a fairy tale, designed to make you behave? Your flesh is infested with crawling, wriggling worms feasting with no relent, no reprieve. If only the fire and the worms would consume you and bring your suffering to an end! No, this will not end. It will go on for eternity.

In an untormented mind, you reasoned with no reason that this could not be true! If God is real isn’t He supposed to be loving? So I’ve been told! He wouldn’t dare do this to me! Fool! God is also infinitely just and righteous. Your sins are against Him! How must an infinitely evil crime, against an infinite God be punished? Infinitely! From this hopeless estate there is no escape. There is no corner, nor hole to hide from the holy wrath of almighty God. No chance to recant of a false testimony against Him whose creation testified to you about Him continuously while you were alive. No repentance now from your willful rebellion against Him. O for relief from this unbearable attention! Heed this warning and let it settle in your mind! You know you deserve Hell. You know God is true. Repent before this becomes your fate! Put your faith in God in the flesh, Jesus the god-man, who worked atonement on the cross for you who would repent and believe in Him. He can cleanse you and clothe you in His righteousness. You can be eternally forgiven instead of condemned. For while you live in sin you are already under certain condemnation. Turn from your ways and turn from wrath. Turn towards Christ Jesus and His ways. Turn towards His glory and abide in Him.

An Offer You Should Not Refuse.

mafia
Hello, my name is inconsequential. My Boss has sent me to you with a message. You belong to Him. You are His property. He owns you. You are His person, and he is very angry with you. You have broken His laws. For that, He is going to kill, and punish you. It is not a matter of if, but when. It is a certainty. You will not escape it. My Boss will kill you. You will meet Him. You will bow to Him, and be judged for breaking His laws. He will punish you. You will bow to Him in this life, or the next. Because He is good, and loving, while you still breath my Boss makes you this offer, apologize, ask Him to forgive you, search yourself, see the truth, that you are not innocent, but you are guilty. Humbly bow down, and submit yourself to His rule. Serve Him. Believe in the work that His Son did on the cross to pay your debt to Him. If you become His servant, as I have, He will change you into a new creature. You will hate what He hates, and love what He loves. You will still die, but you will not be punished for eternity. Instead you will enter into rest. Because His Son endured the eternal punishment, He offers you grace, and mercy instead of giving you what would be just for Him to do. You will be in His glorious presence, and enjoy Him forever. This offer is only good for a short time. You have moments, days, years, or perhaps He will kill you right now…