Monday, May 4, 2009

Forgive me for Skipping Number 8!!!!

Will the TRUE Church Please Stand UP!!!

Identity Crisis #8:  We, the body of Christ, have evangelistic RABIES!!!  We bite too much and don't listen.  (Chapter 23 of Religously Transmitted Diseases by Ed Gungor)

The proposal here is that when we think of evangelism, we still have the title of being a "Bible thumpers" hitting people over the head with God's Word to knock some sense in them.  This is our evangelistic bite into unsaved folk.  We are in such a hurry to get people to make a decision to know Christ, we have become rabid, not loving and engaging them with the gospel.  We have created many evangelistic programs to endoctrinate us with an gospel presentation outline that is not personal, but quick and short.  And when we get started, we rabidly want to finish as fast as we can spouting that we have presented the gospel.  Many times have I been rejected by this method, because I have talked AT someone.  Throwing it out there with no meaning or explanation.

I am convinced that we are to build relationships with all people by the second part of the Great Commandment, "to love your neighbor as yourself."   We are to engage others with the love of Christ by word and deed.  The gospel isnt just about believing, it is about a life change.  Gungor writes on page 204, "Evangelism is not so much a call to believe as it is a call to become.  We believe to become."

Just last week, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with an adult and after I let him walk through a marked New Testament I asked him if he would like to know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.  His repsonse was that he really needed to think about his decision and read somemore about it before he did.  This unsaved young man even owned a Bible and I urged him to read the Gospel of John and 1 John.  Do you know that I was ok with his repsonse?  I did not press him to make a decision and I seek to encourage him when I see him at church.  

Lest we forget, we are not the ones that save someone and we are not the ones who can make someone make a decision.  Holy Spirit convicts, Jesus calls, and we proclaim the good news. Paul says in Acts 17:23, "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you."  We are to be the messenger with news of hope, with news of great joy, with news of change to live for Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, a sacrifice so great we cannot even fathom, a love so pure that is shown to us, a grace that is shown without strings attached and given to us even though we do not deserve it. 

Gungor writes to close this chapter that we need to put down our bullhorns and quit talking AT people and start talking WITH THEM, engaging them in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
That's all I have to say about that.....coming soon....Identity Crisis Final Number 10!!!!


Anonymous said...

meh, I figured you'd been counting little league innings and done lost it. :D

BUT, on the matter of the post.

I see a lot of truth in your comments, Bro. We can't seem to get past the 'say the prayer' thing and then railing on someone for not changing their life. We forget that we are to live His good news as well as talk/speak His good news.

So how do I change my actions? How do I do what God wants me to do? How do I love someone who is difficult to love?
I don't try to do it on MY strength, because I don't have enough. He does, though, and is most willing to share that strength, so that 'Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world' and I have to remember that and QUIT inviting the world into my area of operations (also known as my heart)

thanks for the 'food for thought'

Eklektos said...

Brian, you have presented another thought provoking subject; using my limited knowledge of churches across the state, I see a different problem. The pastors and church leaders I speak with have never told me their congregation is so radical for Jesus they are turning the community up side down, using bullhorns, biting and transmitting biblical rabies to the unchurched. I sense many pastors would like to have some of this sort of problem. I agree there is the occasional Christian that acts in this rabid manner but probably he/she would be the exception instead of the rule, and yes, some need to control their zeal in communicating the gospel as you so adequately described in your second paragraph.

My opinion is the statements used by Mr. Gungor do not accurately reflect the average Christian, but probably sells books. In complete fairness to him, I have not read any of his books but I now have them on my book list.

I see the problem differently, that in order to reach out to the culture many churches are proposing a completely new "map" to deal with what they perceive is a lack of understanding, on the part of the churches, on how to communicate the gospel. Many believe the "scripture" for today is evolving and must change in order to reach a postmodern society.

In a modern society where fast food and blazing fast Internet is the norm, people want a Christian menu as large and as fast as the Internet. They want to be able to shop and compare religious practices, and combine them into a religion they will feel comfortable with. Gone are the days of hard truths and the ugly matter of the Gospel message. Now Christian consumers can have their cake and eat it too. They can believe in a God of love without believing in a God of judgment. They can mix together practices and teachings from every religion, while redefining Biblical teachings in the image of their new syncretized religion of self-indulgence. They can comfort themselves knowing that they are worshipping God according to the current culture, and how they are growing closer to Him. They can combine Eastern mystical practices dedicated to false gods with the worship of Jesus. They no longer have to witness the Gospel to people, they just invite them to church and “God” will take care of the rest (or the pastor, whichever comes first). They get to do their Yoga, martial arts, and contemplative prayer, (I am not talking about the physical part of Yoga or martial arts but the philosophy behind these activities) and still call themselves followers of Christ. They can continue to do anything they want in life, as long as they have convinced themselves that what they are doing can be sanitized for their modern lifestyles, and they no longer need be convicted of sin. They don't have to stick out like a sore thumb at work because they are being light and salt to the world, but can fit right in and disappear in the world, no rabies given here, no thumping with a bible. They can do all this and still claim they are secure in their faith, (as they must know down deep inside) that they are wretched, pitiful, poor blind and naked spiritually.

Few people have extensive understanding of philosophy but it doesn’t take a philosopher to recognize that the prevailing attitude today, an attitude which has invaded the church, is to “settle for what works” and not be overly concerned about truth. After all, postmoderns believe that they can never be certain of truth anyway; therefore, pragmatism will have to do. But when we exchange truth for what works or, better, what we think works, we have elevated our thoughts above God’s. Or as Gordon Clark warns, “Since God is truth, a contempt for truth is equally a contempt for God.” (Gordon H. Clark, A Christian Philosophy of Education (Jefferso Md.: Trinity Foundation, 1988), p. 158)

If we follow, the biblical formula there is not an alternative message that is possible. When Jesus asked the apostles if they were going to follow the crowd and abandon Him too, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Peter saw that Jesus was the only option if someone wanted the truth that led to eternal life, peace, joy and all of the fruits of the spirit.

What has worked to spread the gospel 2000, 1000, 500, 100, 50 years ago still works today, it does not have to be changed, and if changed it will not save.


Sleepy Disciple said...


Thank you for posting your thoughts in this topic. I hope you know that I am not talking about an alternative gospel or even being culturally relevant to be presented and neither does Gungor.

The thought I am trying to bring across is that we have Christians in churches today who believe IN Christ, but we do not have many Christians who will BECOME disciples. I think that it all starts with the evangelistic presentation of the gospel. We share the gospel with them, they acknowledge to believe and say a prayer and BAM, they are saved. The church adds 1 to there total and the Christian claims victory over this salvation decision. This is the RABIES part of quickly going through this process. You are very correct that most churches would love to have that problem. (chuckle)

But are we really echoing Christ's calling to be a disciple when we do this? That is really what we are, those who believe in Him? A learner, a pupil that is to learn from the teachings of their Master. (you could say slave this from Holman Bible Dictionary under DISCIPLE) We learn and live out these teachings in order to one day teach others, a multiplication process. This call to discipleship is not being made, so we have the RABIES part and then we rabidly move on to the next unsaved person to go through the same process.

Miss California is having a hard time now that provocative pictures or her topless have been posted on the Internet. In a Fox News interview, we read that she claims to be a Christian, but she said that she is not perfect. No Christian would judge her for that. However, she also made the statement that she is a model and that models take some of those types of pictures from time to time in bathing suits and topless, etc.
She claims to be a Christian according to her beliefs and stands up for them obviously, but her beliefs (her discipleship and serving her Master) it seems has not bled into her career choices.
I am not trying to judge the woman, she is already in the hot seat as it is...but this latter issue really disturbs me.

What have we BECOME as Christians? Back in the history of the US, some were not just Christian, they were puritans. They became puritans because of their beliefs and their discipleship with Christ. Some may think that is radical, but at least they desired to become a disciple that is set apart from the world in which they lived. So then, What is the church calling Christians to BECOME? It should be disciples, who love the Lord and surrender their lives to God, all of it.

In Titus 3 amongst other parts of Scripture, Paul is writing to Titus to share with the Cretans how to live Godly lives. They were in the habit of rebelling against the Roman rule and not showing Christ as Master of their lives to others. This is such a great blueprint for us as we live today, but I constantly hear about a Christian that has cussed someone out, or has served sin instead of God. They have believed, but they have not BECOME His disciple.

Constantly chiseling, never done.....Brian

Eklektos said...

Pastor Brian, now that you have explained it I understand; and no, I did not think you were talking about an alternative gospel or being culturally relevant. Your posts have been like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, calling the church away from being culturally relevant and not taking the simple message of the gospel and turning it into a message that will not save.

I see two main problems of the church today, one is false teachings i.e., name it and claim it, easy believism, emerging church movement and several others. The second is what you are speaking to, which is close to my heart, is discipleship. The church needs to encourage a new Christian into the process of discipleship, all that the Holy Spirit has created is a new Christian with no rudder or knowledge that can sustain him/her when a situation that tests their faithfulness arrives, potentially leaving them open for the next new ideology that comes along. Discipleship develops a relationship that becomes the glue of the church body; without it the local church then becomes a revolving door, people saved and then leave because of a lack of knowledge about the Christian life or a deep, committed, relationship with Jesus and/or other Christians. Programs, outreach and other types of church activities do not fully develop the relationship or knowledge that is required for a fully committed life of a disciple.

The following is part of a letter I used to invite people to a discipleship class I had last year. My purpose for posting it is perhaps someone will read it and make the decision to become a disciple. I believe it conveys who, what, why and how to become a disciple of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

The best disciple maker in all of history was Yeshua(Jesus). However, even Yeshua submitted to the disciple making process. In Isaiah 50:4 Isaiah, speaking of the coming Messiah, tells us: “The Lord has given Me the tongue of them that are taught (tongues of disciples), that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”

In its purest form, disciple making is a one-on-one process. God frequently uses conferences, concerts, and other events to stimulate believers in Yeshua (Jesus) to become His followers. However, becoming a disciple of Yeshua does not occur during a Christian mega event or a 12-week course of study. Making disciples only occurs when God uses deep relationships developed over time by people. Making disciples is a relational process. Disciples are not mass-produced on an assembly line. Each disciple is crafted one-by-one with the loving hands of our Creator. The process involves two elements: Bible knowledge and the application of that knowledge. On the one hand, Bible knowledge alone can make one proud; on the other, one cannot apply what he does not know. Both elements must come together in the life of a disciple: knowledge and application.

A call to discipleship goes out from Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to everyone who belongs to Him through faith. A decision to answer His call is a matter of choice for each believer; however, every believer should make this choice. The Bible teaches that becoming a disciple requires a one-time-only dedication and a continual commitment.

Jesus instructed His students to be disciple makers. At His ascension, He placed the mantle of responsibility for future disciple-making activity in the world on the shoulders of those He called "friends." Generation after generation, Yeshua's talmidim (disciples) passed on what they learned from their teachers to those who would follow in their footsteps. Becoming and making disciples is not the result of a program that produces a product. It is the result of relationships built around the centrality of God's Word. By looking at the life of Jesus, four distinct and progressive stages in the disciple-making process can be seen:

• COME AND SEE (John 1:35-39)
• FOLLOW ME (Mark 1:17)
• BE WITH ME (Mark 3:14)
• ABIDE IN ME (John 15:7-8)

At the start of His ministry, Yeshua simply invited His prospective talmidim (disciples) to "Come and See." He did not assume they knew more than they actually did. He only expected them to observe, listen, and learn. He keenly focused His future world shakers attention on the fundamentals, the first being that there is only one correct interpretation of any passage of Scripture… the one He intended. The understanding of the correct interpretation of Scripture is the best place to begin the discipleship journey.

Pastor Brian, my prayer is that every new, or old believer makes the decision to become a disciple of Yeshua (Jesus).