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.

They Hate Christians, Why?

The hate and vitriol, I’ve witnessed from liberals, and atheists has been some of the best supporting evidence that the God they hate is truly who He says He is in His word.  They deny Him so passionately, while leaving false religions alone.  They can see hundreds, thousands, no millions of murders committed  by Muslims, Communists, abortionists, and even justify eugenics, and euthanasia with Darwinian evolution,  without batting an eye.  They will even call it, “good.”  They don’t even have the ability to judge anything good or evil without an external moral authority like, oh… I don’t know, God!  Yet, let a Christian preach Christ and they want you locked up as hate criminal.

It has always made me wonder, why it is, that so many people hate Christianity, and God. It caused me to read the Bible more. The Bible, God’s word, makes it clear why they hate us. It isn’t because we are the most charitable and giving people on the Earth, and we are. It isn’t because we preach to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and we do. It isn’t because we disrupt society with bombings, shootings, and decapitations, because we don’t.

 

It is simply because, people hate the thought that their idea of their own personal righteousness isn’t good enough. Not only is it not good enough, it is actually offensive to God. They hate the fact that, God Himself in the second personage of the Trinity, according to His sovereign, will, foreknowledge, and love, offered Himself, as a Holy sacrifice, to justify wretched sinners to Himself. The transcendent Holiness of God is so offensive to the self-righteous that they would kill him over and over again, throughout eternity if they could. They hate what He shows them about themselves.

The fact, that all have sinned and deserve death and hell. That none are good, not one. Friends, if you hate Christ, His cross, or His people, ask yourself today, “Why do I feel so strongly about this? What is it, really about them that I hate so much?” be honest, repent, and believe in the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. Submit to Him and follow Him as your Lord, master, and Savior. You can be free of all of the hate that you’ve been harboring, you can have the burdensome load of bitterness, loathing, and guilt removed from you shoulders. Humbly come to Christ in repentance and faith. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Gay marriage, What’s next?

To learn who rules over you, simpy find out who you are not allowed to criticize.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

In the near future, gay marriage will be a reality across the U.S. It seems that we have become the moral minority. The younger, more liberal crowd and even moderates are on board with it. Even some professing evangelicals are approving gay marriage. I don’t understand it, but it is going to happen. I have resigned myself to it as a certainty.

We’ve been told that all they want is the same rights that we have to be married. Marriage isn’t a right to be conveyed upon a people by a government. Marriage predates any human government or authority. As such, governments can only recognize what God has already ordained. In this post-Christian world of secular morals, government no longer looks to the moral authority of God, who transcends their authority. No, they look to the secular majority for their doctrine. The majority wants gay marriage to be a reality. We can’t stop it from happening. The secularists and the government will take marriage and define it how they will. That does not mean that the marriage is one of Godly ordination.

christian-marriageThe question we need to ask now is, “What’s next?” What will they want from us? I am certain they will want the, “right” to be married in a Christian Church, by a Pastor. Now ask yourselves, “Why would a couple who don’t believe in the authoritative word of God or God Himself, want to be joined in a covenant between Him and a man and a woman? Why would they want to do this in a Church that is dedicated to God? Why would they want a minister of His word to perform the ceremony?” It doesn’t make any sense to us because our minds are being renewed by the reading of His word. We are not worldly thinkers anymore. Our moral authority is external to us. God is our Lord and master, not the sinful world system that enslaves the minds of the unregenerate.

We can’t expect them to change their minds and be reasonable. They are deceived by their very own sinful natures. It is this fact that drives them to pervert every good thing from God. They will keep doing this because they are His enemies. Because we love the Lord and are His children, the world will hate us for His namesake. This is just one step on the path to full open persecution of Christians in America. The next step will be to punish Churches that won’t perform the ceremony for them. Then it will be to arrest anyone who preaches from the Bible about Hell, sin, and mankind’s wretched state. It will be a, “hate-speech” violation to call a person a sinner and to suggest that God is anything other than love. Try it now. Try preaching the justice of God and His sovereignty. Try preaching that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Preach that all are destined for eternal torment in Hell lest they repent and put their faith in the exclusivity of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the utmost offense, that there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus.

If you don’t believe it will happen, then you will be surprised when oppression, in a velvet glove comes to quietly crush you in the night. Then later the gloves will be off and open persecution will come. We will see the type of persecution that happened during the communist revolution in Poland. We will see the persecution that happens to our brothers and sisters in Christ that is happening now all over the world. When it hits home it will be too late. It will be too late for us to be salt and light. There will be nobody to listen to us except to delight in our cries.

For those of you who are secular and reading this… remember. Remember what I have said this day. When it happens while you are young or much older, remember and intervene. Let it be a testimony to you. Let the screams of the tortured bounce around in your head until you see the truth of it. Then, repent and ask God to forgive you for being so very wrong. Repent and put your faith in Him to forgive you for going along with it. He is merciful and trustworthy to forgive a humbled, penitent heart. You can know peace between you and your creator through His finished work on the cross. Jesus has paid the debt that your sin has accrued. He provides righteousness for you upon your regeneration and justification. May God bless you with salvific repentance and faith.

Christian oppression and persecution around the world and in America.

Christian oppression and persecution around the world and in America.

pesecuted

Persecution – a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs: the persecutions of Christians by the Romans.
Oppression – the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.

These are the two concepts we are going to be dealing with today. I want you to note that oppression is a way to persecute people. It is persecutions ugly little sister. When oppression is fully grown she becomes open persecution. In America today we are beginning to see oppression of the Christian world view. The post-Christian, secular, world is now beginning to openly and brazenly display their hatred, intolerance, and bigotry, towards anyone espousing a Christian world view. If it isn’t evident to you it is because you aren’t a Christian, ipso facto you are part of the oppressive secular world. Of course you wouldn’t want to consider yourself an oppressor, but you are complicit. My favorite intolerant hate mongering comes from the people, who claim to be its biggest victims, the gay community. “Tim Tebow prayed to God! Shut him up!!! Another athlete came out of the closet! Hooray!!! He/she is such a brave hero to come out in the face of such oppression!!!” Wow! Seriously? What is wrong with your mind? Can’t you see the blatant double standard?
I also love it how secularists will criticize Christianity, but they won’t touch Islam for fear of getting their heads chopped off, being hung, or having their buildings blown up. When is the last time you saw a Presbyterian burn down a newspaper building for printing an article criticizing them? When is the last time you saw Christians chop off someone’s head for saying derogatory blasphemous things about Jesus? It’s ok though. We are told that the world will hate us for loving Jesus. That is how we know we are doing it right. If the world loved us we would be just like them.
If they hated Christ so much they wanted to kill Him, hated His Apostles so much they brutally killed them all as well, hated the early Church Fathers so much they did the same to them, what makes us think we will get treated any differently? Let’s see, Jesus was savagely beaten, cursed, spat upon, and crucified. Peter was crucified upside down on a cross because he didn’t think himself worthy to be crucified like Jesus, whom he loved. James was decapitated with a sword. His unfailing faith in Jesus and the resurrection affected his executioner so much that he himself was martyred. Stephen, the first Apostle to be martyred was stoned to death by Paul who would later become a Christian as well. Andrew was crucified as well just like his brother Peter. Doubting Thomas, we all remember him right? He had so much faith in Christ he continued to preach of Him until he was finally killed. They made it a party, they burned him with hot metal plates, and they stabbed him through with spears of pine, and then finally burned him alive. How’s that for a good time? Do you feel it yet secularists? Phillip was tortured and crucified. Matthew was beheaded, in other words they chopped off his head… Noticing a trend here? That’s not even all of them. That is but a few.


We aren’t seeing that in America… yet. We are seeing it all over the world. It hasn’t stopped. It won’t stop. As long as there are Christians in the world the world will hate them, torture them, and kill them. The secularists don’t even ask why. They don’t care. They are like the communists in Poland during the communist takeover. They think the world will be better without them. Just do a search on the internet for images with the words, “persecuted Christian” You will find people that have been hung, stabbed, had acid poured on their faces, been cut with machetes, even crucified.  christians-suffer-persecution-in-egypt-copts Somehow this goes right under the secularist’s radar. They turn a blind eye while screaming about gay marriage. They scream for women’s rights and how this Christian society is so oppressive, but they don’t look twice or even once for that matter at how Islam treats women. It is ludicrous!!!
We are being oppressed now. The secularists are shouting us down. They won’t listen to reason, and they won’t be swayed away from their own hateful hearts. They believe they are justified in hating Christians. Why is that you might ask? It is because we say that all men and women are born sinners and are evil. This is at the root of it. They hate it when they have to look into the mirror and see their own sin as contrasted to the righteousness of Christ. They know they are sinners, but have repressed that knowledge in unrighteousness. They seek to elevate man, and eliminate God. When they see someone or something that reminds them of how evil they are they have two options, repent, or kill it. Guess which option they are choosing more and more today? My friends it is imperative that we preach the good news of Jesus Christ even under the duress of persecution and death. When John Hus the Reformer was burned alive for opposing the Roman Catholic Church and staying true to Christ he was singing hymns in the flames and praying. We must finish our race strong for Christ. Pray that He grants us the grace to be faithful under oppression and for us to finish strong when martyred.