Three Pictures Of The Church

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When you’ve been at a church service have you ever asked yourself, “What are we doing here? What exactly is ‘church’? What are we supposed to be doing?”  

 Some people think church is saints going out to tell people about Jesus, and some people think church is saints coming together to hear about Jesus (see Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:18). I think this is an either-or trap. 

I think a better way of looking at this is “both-and” and “so that”: BOTH coming to a gathering of believers so that we can be equipped to go out AND going out to tell people about Jesus so that we can bring new disciples into the church. 

Our foundational truth statement says: The Church is the Body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments for the fulfillment of her great commission. Each believer, born of the Spirit, is an integral part of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in heaven. 

To help us see where we play a vital role in all of this, the Bible gives us three pictures of the church:

  1. A Body
  2. A Building
  3. A Bride

(see Ephesians 1:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 2:19-22; John 3:29; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:21-33)

All of these pictures speak of multiple parts making up one unified, healthy whole. Remove any part or any function, and the whole thing is diminished. All of these pictures also speak of intentionality. No one becomes healthy by accident, or builds a sound structure by accident, or enjoys a fulfilling marriage by accident. Health, soundness, and fulfillment all result from being intentional about our choices and interactions. 

I believe these three pictures also help us see what the church isn’t and is. 

  • A healthy church isn’t about numbers  
  • A healthy church isn’t about the day of the week that we meet
  • A healthy church isn’t about an “order of service” (there is no such thing listed in the New Testament!)
  • A healthy church is about Jesus being the focal point. As Jesus said, “I will build My Church.”   
  • A healthy church is about being intentional in everything we do 
  • A healthy church is about doing everything we can to glorify Jesus, both when we come together and when we go out into the world

(see Matthew 18:20; Romans 14:5; Matthew 16:18; Acts 10:38; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Hebrews 10:23-25) 

The first Church in the New Testament showed us how they followed the example of Jesus. Before trying to fulfill the Great Commission of going into all the world, they first obeyed the directive from Jesus to stay in Jerusalem until they were empowered by the Holy Spirit. Then we see an intentionality, and an empowerment, and a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit in everything they undertook from that point on. 

(see Acts 1:8; 2:42-47; 4:29-35; 6:1-7; 8:4, 26; 10:19-20; 13:1-3; 15:1-29)  

It’s not about going to “my church” or going to “your church.” It’s about being the Church (with a capital “C”)—the Body of of Christ, the Building of Christ, the Bride of Christ. 

Bottom line:

Christians are being the Church when they are intentionally living in a way that makes Jesus known. 

This is a part of our ongoing series looking at our foundational truths. If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series, you can find the full list by clicking here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Sent To Show Jesus To The World

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Sent To Show Jesus To The World

And the glory that You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are One: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (Jesus, in John 17:22-23)

     The essence and cause of the glory that the Father gave the Son was, first of all, that He endowed Him with the Holy Spirit. ‘God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand’ (John 3:34-35). The Holy Spirit descended upon our Lord in His baptism and abode upon Him so that in the power of the indwelling Spirit He lived, spoke, acted, and in all that He did, the Spirit of God was manifest. …  

     Now this glory, our Lord has given to all His disciples. Upon each true disciple, the Spirit of God rests according to his measure. If we have not the anointing to the fullest, it is either from lack of capacity or by reason of our own sin, for the Spirit of God is given to the saints—He dwells with us and will be in us always. My brothers and sisters, I would to God we realized this, that the glory of the Holy Spirit that was given to Christ is also given to us, so that it is ours to think, to feel, to speak, to act under His guiding influence and supernatural power! What are we apart from the Holy Spirit? How can we hope to convince even one man, much less the world, that God has sent His Son unless the Holy Spirit is with us? …  

     If men would see God, let them look at Jesus, for there is He to be seen! And with bated breath we add—let them look at Christ’s people, for there also is God revealed! It is the glory of the saints that they are the mirror of the divine character! … 

     Christ Jesus was sent to reveal the Father, sent to reclaim the wandering souls of men, sent to seek and to save the lost. And this is exactly what every true Christian is sent into the world to do. He is commissioned to reveal God in his every act and word. He is commissioned to win back rebellious hearts. He is commissioned to save the sons of men and bring them up out of the horrible pit into which their sins have cast them. …

     Jesus was the Son of God, and He overcame the world in the power of His Sonship. Now, this glory that the Father gave Him, He has given us, that we, too, may be accepted; that we, too, may have access; that we, too, may have prevalence in prayer; that we, too, may have the Spirit of Adoption; and that we, too, may trample upon sin and overcome the hosts of darkness. This is the glory that rests upon all the faithful!

From The Glory, Unity, And Triumph Of The Church

Jesus commissioned His followers to go into all the world as His witnesses, but He never intended for us to go in our own strength. As Spurgeon asked, “How can we hope to convince even one man, much less the world, that God has sent His Son unless the Holy Spirit is with us?” 

That’s why I always stress that Christians not be content with merely having received the salvation that comes with the forgiveness of their sins, but that they press on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. It’s this empowerment that will allow us to be effective witnesses for Jesus.

How To Bring Men To Christ (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Among the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples was His commission that after they were empowered by the baptism in the Holy Spirit they should go into all the world, preaching the gospel, and making more disciples of Jesus. R.A. Torrey spent his life fulfilling this commission, and he shares the lessons he learned in his book How To Bring Men To Christ. 

This book is a highly practical guide that is set up almost like an encyclopedia. After a brief introduction, the second chapter is simply entitled “How to begin,” and it outlines the broad, big-picture strokes. Then the next nine chapters are all entitled “Dealing with….” Torrey gives us a detailed listing of passages of Scripture, including how and when to use them, for various types of people, such as: the indifferent, those anxious about their eternal fate, those with false hopes, those who lack assurance of salvation, skeptics, complainers, and the hardheaded. Torrey gives the Christian soul-winner all of the biblical help they will need, plus some personal examples of how he employed these scriptures himself. 

The final two chapters of this book focus on the role of the Holy Spirit in helping Christians progress in their own sanctification and grow in their maturity as soul winners. 

How To Bring Men To Christ can probably be read through quite quickly, but it is a book that many Christians will want to put in a place of reference where they can return to it again and again. All Christians who want to live out the Great Commission that was given to us by Jesus Himself will want to read this highly practical book.

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9 Quotes From “To The Work!”

D.L. Moody passionately and persuasively dismantles all of the hesitations Christians have to being active and outspoken about their relationship with Jesus. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“I have often said that if I had to convict men of sin I would have given up the work long ago. That is the work of the Holy Ghost. What we have to do is to scatter the good seed of the Word, and expect that God will bless it to the saving of men’s souls.” 

“One of the great obstacles in the way of God’s work today is this want of love among those who are the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. … To address men well they must be loved much.” 

“Those who have been greatly used of God in all ages have been men of courage. If we are full of faith we shall not be full of fear, distrusting God all the while. That is the trouble with the Church of Christ today—there are so many who are fearful, because they do not believe that God is going to use them. What we need is to have the courage that will compel us to move forward.” 

“If you cannot engage in any active work yourselves you can do a good deal by cheering on others.” 

“Let us not be discouraged, but let us use all these wonderful opportunities, and honor God by expecting great things. If we do we will not be disappointed. God is ready and willing to work, if we are ready and willing to let Him, and to be used by Him.” 

“A good many people are afraid of the word enthusiasm. Do you know what the word means? It means ‘In God.’ … People say that if we go on in that way many mistakes will be made. Probably there will. You never saw any boy learning a trade who did not make a good many mistakes. If you do not go to work because you are afraid of making mistakes, you will probably make one great mistake—the greatest mistake of your life—that of doing nothing. If we all do what we can, then a good deal will be accomplished.” 

“When God wanted to bring the children of Israel out of bondage, He did not send an army; He sent one solitary man. So in all ages God has used the weak things of the world to accomplish His purposes.” 

“If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced it must be done by men and women of average talent. After all there are comparatively few people in the world who have great talents. … I do not believe, either, that all God’s work is going to be done by ministers, and other officers in the Churches. This lost world will never be reached and brought back to loyalty to God, until the children of God wake up to the fact that they have a mission in the world.” 

“Philip was called away from a great work in Samaria to go and speak to one man in the desert. Christ’s great sermon on Regeneration was addressed to one man; and that wonderful discourse by our Lord on the Water of Life was spoken to one poor sinful woman. I pity those Christians who are not willing to speak to one soul; they are not fit for God’s service. We shall not accomplish much for God in the world, if we are not willing to speak to the ones and twos. … The Lord expects us to do what we can. We can all do something.”

To The Work! (book review)

Dwight Moody wasn’t a trained theologian nor a polished orator. He was a former shoe salesman-turned-preacher who spoke the common language of his parishioners. To The Work: Exhortations to Christians perfectly captures his voice and style. 

The definition of exhortation means to persuade, inspire, or encourage, but it usually carries the idea that those things are being delivered with some urgency. Perhaps the one being exhorted is moving too slowly, or too recklessly, or too immaturely. The exhortation is intended to get their attention and get them back on track. 

This book is a collection of addresses to folks in the church. Moody exhorts them to get to the work of telling others about Jesus. In address after address, he dismantles all the excuses folks have used through the years. Things like: I’m not skilled, I am afraid, I don’t know very many people, why would anyone listen to me, is my life even making a difference? Moody’s exhortation is consistent: You are empowered and commanded by Jesus to get to the work! 

This is an excellent book to use as a means of encouraging both yourself and fellow Christians to fully embrace the mandate that Jesus gave to all of us: Go into ALL the world and preach the Gospel! 

Our Priestly Service

… pronounce them clean … pronounce them unclean … (about 40 times in Leviticus 12-15).

The Old Testament priests could not cure anyone, they could only pronounce cleanness or uncleanness. Only God could cure. So when Jesus walked this earth, He showed His deity by touching lepers and saying, “You are clean,” by stopping the flow of blood that made a woman unclean, and by restoring maimed limbs and blinded eyes that kept people from entering into the place of worship. 

Jesus said to His followers—and He still says to us today—“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you“ (John 15:3). Jesus cleanses our bodies and our consciences, and He keeps us clean until He presents us to His Father in Heaven (Hebrews 10:22; Jude 24).

We have been cleansed for a purpose. What is that purpose? In short, it is for our priestly service to our world. 

I find it interesting that the person in the Old Testament who was pronounced clean was then anointed in the exact same ways as the priests were when they were consecrated for service in the tabernacle (Leviticus 14:14-18, 25-29; 8:23-24, 30). When Jesus sent His followers out to minister, He consecrated them with the New Testament mandate, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, CLEANSE those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give“ (Matthew 10:8). 

Not just, “Pronounce them healed, raised, cleansed, and freed,” but “Heal, raise, cleanse, free”!

Jesus has cleansed us AND consecrated us to be His ministers. He has given us His authority not just to make pronouncements, but to actually heal and deliver! 

The Unborn, Unchallenged, And Unreached

“The Lord of life will not tolerate senseless death whether through abortion or neglect of our missionary commission. Both rebellious sins result in billions dying. The killing of unborn babies and the reluctance to spend ourselves that the unreached may be born again are equal and connected evils: both would rather others die, unprotected or unwarned, than be inconvenienced. If we do nothing about the unborn and the unreached, if we do not respond to God’s command to fight for life, then we break covenant with Him, scoff at His messengers, and the wrath of God will rise until there is no remedy. With the blood of 50 million unborn on our hands and the blood of 3.15 billion unreached on our heads, surely wrath is nigh and remedy runs out. 

“The enemy is most vile in his demonic success when he succeeds in getting us to kill our own. How many future missionaries lie buried in tiny graves? How many unreached will die because a ‘Christian’ nation aborted our own missionaries? A less decried corporate murder, another abortion campaign, is the emasculation of men. Men were born to fight, and the spirit behind homosexuality denies masculinity and seeks to kill the warrior spirit. If the enemy can get us to kill our own children and emasculate our own men, he can sit back in demonic satisfaction as we destroy ourselves and no one lives so that the nations may not die. There are on average seven single missionary women for every one single missionary man. Where are the missionary men? Have we killed them in the cradle of the womb or the cradle of culture, media, and caricature? 

“What if there is a deeper core to the travesties of abortion and homosexuality? What if the implications are so much bigger than our ‘rights,’ ‘convenience,’ or ‘pleasure’? What if these issues are about the nations and the glory of God among all peoples? What if by getting us to kill our children and neuter our men, the devil knows he can hold unreached people captive and death will reign both at home and abroad? Maybe there is yet one last remedy for wrath. Maybe the fate of the unborn, unchallenged, and unreached are all connected. Perhaps as we fight for the abolition of abortion, the warrior masculinity of men, and the glory of God among all peoples, God will have mercy on our land and hold back the winepress of His wrath.” —Dick Brogden, in Missionary God, Missionary Bible (emphasis mine)

9 More Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a collection of lectures Oswald Chambers delivered to students who felt a call to missions work. But Chambers made clear that every Christian is a missionary—“A missionary and a Christian ought to be one and the same.” Here are a few more quotes from this challenging book.

“It is God who saves men; we have to do the discipling after they are saved.”

“Our Lord calls to no special work; He calls to Himself. Pray to the Lord of the harvest, and He will engineer your circumstances and send you out.”

“Our Lord’s word ‘go’ simply means ‘live,’ and Acts 1:8 describes the ‘going.’ Jesus did not say to the disciples—‘Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth’; but—‘You shall be My witnesses’ in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—‘What are you going to do?’ I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be.”

“We adapt the New Testament to suit our own ideas; consequently we look on Jesus Christ as One Who assists us in our enterprises. The New Testament idea is that Jesus Christ is the absolute Lord over His disciples.”

“One way in which satan comes as an angel of light to Christians today is by telling them there is no need to use their minds. We must use our minds; we must keep the full power of our intellect ablaze for God on any subject that awakens us in our study of His Word.”

“Unless the missionary knows God and trusts in Him entirely, he will step down to a lower level and compromise, and tell the people they need not do certain things in exactly the way that Jesus indicates. But if he stands true to God, he will preach the truth, at whatever cost to the converts. No nervous system can stand that strain, no sensitiveness of mind can stand that test, nothing but the Holy Ghost can stand it, because He has the mind of God.”

“Loyalty to the commission [see Matthew 28:19-20] means, first of all, that the missionary sets himself to find out all that his Lord taught. There is not a greater test for loyal concentration than that. Jesus did not say—‘Teach salvation,’ or ‘teach sanctification,’ or ‘teach divine healing,’ but—‘Teach whatsoever I have commanded you.’ … A missionary is not sent by Jesus Christ to do medical work, educational work, industrial work; all that is part of the ordinary duty of life, and a missionary ought to be so equipped that he does these things naturally. But Jesus Christ never sends His disciples to do these things; He sends His disciples to teach, to ‘make disciples of all the nations.’”

“God does not do anything with us, only through us; consequently the one thing God estimates in His servants is the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“The real center of the disciple’s devotion is watching with Jesus [see Matthew 26:38]. When once we have learned to watch with Him, the thought of self is not kept down because it is not there to keep down; self-effacement is complete. Self has been effaced by the deliberate giving up to another self in sovereign preference, and the manifestation of the life in the actual world of things is—‘I am not my own, but His.’”

My full book review of So Send I You is here, and you can check out the first set of quotes I shared from So Send I You by clicking here. And be sure to check out my weekly series “Thursdays With Oswald” where I share longer passages from his book I am currently reading.

Thursdays With Oswald—Love’s Focus

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Love’s Focus 

     We live in a complex world, a mass of sensibilities and impressionabilities that we are apt to imagine that it is the same with God. … The key to missionary devotion is put in our hand at the outset, “For His name’s sake they went forth” [3 John 7]. The key is amazingly simple, as is everything connected with Our Lord. Our difficulties arise when we lose the key, and we lose the key by not being simple. …  

     “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You” [John 21:16]. In verse 15 Our Lord had made a comparison—“Do you truly love Me more than these?” Here He makes no comparison—“Do you truly love Me?” To demand a declaration of love beyond comparison is to risk losing all. A missionary must be dominated by this love beyond compare to the Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise he will be simply the servant of a denomination or a cause, or a seeker for relief from a crushing sorrow in work. Many go into Christian work not for the sake of His Name, but in order to find surcease from their own sorrow; because of unrequited love; or because of a bereavement or a disappointment. Such workers are not dominated by the Master, and they are likely to strew the mission field with failure and sighs, and to discourage those who work with them. There is only one thing stronger than any of these feelings, and that is love.

From So Send I You

It’s a good question for any Christian to ask themselves: Why do I do what I do?

Does it seem like a good idea? A noble idea? Is it because someone asked me to help? Maybe I saw a need that wasn’t being addressed?

Or do I do what I do as a Christian because I am so in love with Jesus—so focused on Him—that I cannot help but stay “on mission” with Him? His directive was not to DO things, but to BE His witness wherever I went, teaching people whatever He taught me (see Matthew 28:19-20).

Love for Christ should be the only reason we do what we do.

Thursdays With Oswald—The Power Is In The Solitude

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Power Is In The Solitude

     If we want to know the universal sovereignty of Christ, we must get into solitude with Him. It is not sufficient for someone else to tell us about Him; we must perceive with our own eyes Who He is, we must know Him for ourselves. … 

     We must get to the place of real solitude with Christ. He is our mountain-height and our sea-calm; He is the recreating power; He is the universal Sovereign. He tells us to consider the lilies; we say—“No, we must consider life.” We mistake the mechanism of life for life itself, and that idea has become incorporated into Christian work. In the active work we do for God we do not really believe that Jesus Christ is sovereign Lord; if we did, we should fuss less and build more faith in Him. We cannot do the Savior’s work by fuss, but only by knowing Him as the supreme sovereign Lord. … 

     Our Lord’s word “go” simply means “live,” and Acts 1:8 describes the “going.” Jesus did not say to the disciples—“Go into Jerusalem, go into Judea, go into Samaria, go into the uttermost part of the earth”; but—“You shall be My witnesses” in all these places: He undertakes to establish the goings. So many people are obsessed with this idea—“What are you going to do?” I hope none of us are going to do anything: I hope we are going to be what He wants us to be. … 

     The key to the missionary is the absolute Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must get into real solitude with Him, feed our soul on His Word, and He will engineer our circumstances.

From So Send I You 

Jesus gave a command to all His followers—including all of us today—All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go (Matthew 28:18-19). Jesus is saying to us, “Preach and teach out of a living experience of Myself.” In this respect, we are all missionaries.

Oswald Chambers reminds us missionaries that the only way we will be effective in our goings is by spending adequate time in solitude and worship with Our Lord. If we don’t, then we are trying to do ministry on our own, trying to engineer our own circumstances. But the missionary who is spending time with Jesus finds that He directs all our goings and engineers all our circumstances.

The power to testify about Jesus comes from our time of solitude with Jesus.

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