The Challenge Preaching and Teaching to All Who Are Listening!

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV Bible:

[1]  Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  [2] I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  [3] You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?

FIRST of all, I’m not a Pastor.  But a preacher, a teacher…that I am.  Now that I cleared that up, I can proceed with some principles.  Principles I’ve discovered over 40 years of teaching… which might just help in your sharing of the gospel to all!.

Preaching and Teaching to the Immature and the Spiritual Giants…

Every week, pastors all over the world are asked to do something that is almost impossible:  Preach and teach a message to a group of people which includes…

—  Teenagers to seniors.

—  Men and women.

—  Mature disciples and not-yet-believers.

—  The faithful and the skeptical.

—  Regular attenders and first time guests.

—  Singles, married, divorced and “it’s complicated.”

—  Those who need comfort and those who need a swift kick in the…!

No wonder the pastoral burnout rate is so high!

As a Christian Blogger, I’ve been teaching through writing, as THE WORD DETECTIVE for 44 months with mixed results.  It’s still tough, but I’ve become steadily better at it in time.  But mostly by trial and error.  While I don’t claim to have mastered the art of writing down all my thoughts, I have discovered a few simple principles that may help in your particular giftings.

"Babes" and "Giants"
“Babes” and “Giants”

“Babes in Christ”–Who are they?

“I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn’t digest [“stomach”] anything stronger.  And even now you still have to be fed milk”  (1 Corinthians 3:2 TLB).  {I added the word “stomach” in brackets for emphasis}

“Babes in Christ” are Christians who aren’t sufficiently advanced to the teachings of the Word of God.  They are still majoring in the simple and easy truths of the Bible; they see Him as a God of Love but can’t picture Him as a God of wrath and judgement.

So, they RESIST any kind of “strong” or “hard” preaching/teaching against sin.  It doesn’t fit in their elementary theology box.

Could there be sadder words spoken by a Preacher to his congregation?

The Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthian Church here–a church that was enriched with much knowledge and many spiritual gifts.  Yet in spite of their many BLESSINGS, they remained as “babes in Christ”–couldn’t “handle” the matters of doctrine. so they fill in the blanks with unsound reasoning and began making up their own DOCTRINE!  I’m sure they thought that they were “Spiritual Giants” in their thinking.  But were they not “babes in Christ” and didn’t know it?

Stay Fixed on THE WORD
Stay Fixed on THE WORD

PRINCIPLE NUMBER ONE:  Start and Stay with Scripture.

This is  KEY when teaching or preaching.  Don’t just use a verse or two–a jumping off point to say what you want to say.  STUDY IT and STICK WITH IT throughout the entire message.  Sure, we need to use personal stories, current events and common experiences in our communication, verbally or our writings.  BUT, as I have found, going down a “spiritual rabbit holes” can lead you in the direction of wrong intentions.

When I first started blogging, my oldest daughter sent me a message via Email:

“DAD, I enjoyed reading your story about Jesus in the Bible. Just a suggestion, you might use more personal stories to get your point across. LOVE YOU DADDY, Karen.”

Too many, well-meaning pastors and Christian writers are basing their messages, not on a passage from God’s Word, but on the title of the latest movie, a news headline, or the latest “a funny thing happened to me” story.

Forget Your Bible?
Forget Your Bible?

When in doubt of what to say, or teach is…“the TRUTH of God’s Word always, and I mean “always” speaks to everyone.”

PRINCIPLE TWO:  Learning Something New.

One of the best ways I’ve found in reading and using Scripture  is to MEDITATE on the passage I’ve chosen until I discover something I’ve never seen before.  Reading the words before me until they begin to speak to me.  And, if I don’t feel I’m ready…read it again until it does speak!

Second, I’ve learned over time, the things that I teach orally, preach or write might likely be deep enough for the “mature believer” as well.

I love reading the comments left on my published blogs;  “Thanks, Mel!  I never saw it in that way before!”  To which I reply, “Me either!”

There are few things more invigorating to a church member, as hearing from their pastor who keeps learning and sharing new depths in God’s Word.  And by the way, tell your pastor, encourage your pastor, in acknowledging the truth presented.

PRINCIPLE THREE:  Using the Simplest Language Possible.

After studying and prayer each morning, I go through my notes and edit my rough draft with a Roget’s Thesaurus next to the computer.  I try to replace all the multisyllabic theological terms into everyday terminology.  The same words I would use in casual conversation at the local coffee shop.  I feel it is my responsibility to help my readers, or the Bible Study attendees, to understand biblical concepts and doctrine in such a way, that they can take with them and live them out.

It’s not easy…

Sometimes it’s hard to explain deep concepts in simple language with all the commentaries, books available,  etc., but I’m learning in the process. If I can’t explain it in simple terms, I probably don’t understand it as well as I think I do.  So I study some more until I have a better grasp of God’s Word and can explain it simply [you might disagree].

PRINCIPLE FOUR:  Leave the Results in God’s Hands.

Although frustrated at times, I have certainly learned over the years…you can’t speak with your lips or write weekly blogs, that everyone will get something different from the same message or topic given.  Only God’s WORD can do that.  So I do what I can do, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

I can’t reach the sorrowing widower, the struggling single parent, the alcoholic dad, the skeptical seeker at the same time.  But the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word in speech or in writing can.

The Holy spirit steps in and does something we could never do.  He speaks to each person so specifically, that I hope and pray they leave the pages I write, leave knowing, “That MESSAGE was just for me.”

“Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” are listening…

HEBREWS 5:12-14 AMP:

[12]  “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.”

[13]  “For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!”

[14]  “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”

Who are the “someones” and the “everyone’s” in your life?

I wanted to leave you with a question rather than an answer.  And if you don’t know the answer, that’s okay.  Should you know the answers?

I have only presented a brief summation of God’s Principles and presenting the TRUTH to Pastors, teachers, preachers, and bloggers (writers).

“If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advance teaching].  For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit.  And have felt how good THE WORD OF GOD is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come”  (Hebrews 6:3-5 AMP).

 

Photo Credits:

Photo Pin

Credits: 

Signs of Spiritual Immaturity – “Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” by Connie Giordano – Walking in Faith.

 

 

 

 

“I’m MAD as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take this anymore!”

Mad_as_HellThe infamous line in the movie Network is often used to describe our hectic lives.

How many of us have ever felt the pressures of life?  Let’s not fool ourselves.  We live in a fallen world surrounded by everyday troubles and stresses. 

*  Financial

*  Family

*  Ministry

*  A nation in conflict

“I’m at my wit’s end over all this!”

THE APOSTLE PAUL Addresses the Issue – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NIV:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us.  [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  [10] We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  [11] For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.  [12] So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

Looking at this Scripture, we can discover a few applications from it–

#1.  You and I are going to have problems.

Here we have Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament and having and facing problems in his life.

—  He was shipwrecked 3 times…

—  Beaten…

—  Put in prison multiple times…

  He had many ministry issues…

—  He had a “thorn in the flesh…

It doesn’t matter who you are, how spiritually mature or immature, you are going to experience problems and pressures in your life.  Just because you come to JESUS, it doesn’t mean that the world and your enemy are going to cut you any slack.  In fact, it will probably intensify!  And, you might even say to yourself at times…“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” 

Overcoming the Types of Problems and Stresses in Life–Soda Pop Cans and “Jars of Clay”

Paul not only describes the types of problems and stresses we all face, but how to overcome them at the same time.

A.  I’m PRESSED but not CRUSHED!

Paul is telling us we are “hard pressed on every side.”  This is the PRESSURE OF THE WORLD.  But, I am NOT crushed – Why?

An Illustration:

Unopened Can
Unopened Can

TWO ALUMINUM POP CANS – One can is unopened and full of soda pop.  The other can is opened and empty.

If I take the FIRST CAN and squeeze with all my might, I can’t crush it.  Now, I know that with enough pressure the can will rupture, so bear with me in this.

CRUSHED CAN
CRUSHED CAN

If I take the EMPTY CAN and apply only a small amount of pressure, it will collapse.  I wasn’t able to crush the first can because it isn’t open to the world.  SECONDLY, there is something inside.

“He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world”  (1 John 4:4).

ONE CAN collapsed easily–

1.)  Was open to the world.

2.)  There was nothing on the inside.

How then can we be PRESSED but not CRUSHED?

We make a decision not to open up to the world; to allow Christ Jesus to be our strength.

B.  I’M CONFUSED, BUT NOT FREAKING OUT!  (verse 8)

The word “PERPLEXED” in the Greek language literally translates  “to have no way out; to be at a mental loss.”

Have you ever been confused?  Not knowing where to turn or what to do?  Yes, we have all dealt with circumstances in life where we thought there was no way out.

So how is it that we can be “at a mental loss” and not FREAK OUT saying, “I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Same reason as before:  IT IS CHRIST WITHIN ME!

Jesus is ALL-KNOWING!

He is OMNISCIENT!

He knows what tomorrow holds!

He is in control.

The reason I’m not freaking out is because I know God is going to work it all out for my good.

“And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who LOVE GOD and are called according to His purpose of them”  (Romans 8:28 NLT–capitalized for emphasis).

God might be working you right now, but He’s working you for your own good.  TRUST in His promises.

C.  I’m Bloody, Not Broken.

If you get smacked in the nose, it hurts!  Your eyes well up with TEARS dealing with real pain.

I remember playing baseball in High School one year, and while in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch, I was struck between the eyes with a fastball.  It broke the safety-glasses I was wearing in half.  No blood, but suffered two black eyes and plenty of tears from the pain.

In LIFE, we all deal with hurts, wounds and yes, even black eyes.  It may come from our PAST or PRESENT situations.

How then, can we deal with our HURTS and still PRESS forward?

Allow Christ to manifest Himself in your life through the Word of God.

Build up RELATIONSHIPS of other brothers and sisters in Christ which helps us through our tough times.  Sometimes we just need someone with skin on them to comfort us in a time of need (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

D.  I’m Knocked Down, Not Knocked Out!

Yes, sometimes we do get knocked down; hit in the gut by betrayal, death of a loved one, loss of finances…the wind is knock completely out of us as we lie gasping for breath and afraid to get back up on our feet.

FEAR of being hit again can keep you down.

DOUBT can keep you down.

The only person keeping you on the mat…IS YOU!

Why cant the DEVIL keep me down?  Because Christ is in me.  The devil and every demon in hell couldn’t keep Him down!

“Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over ALL the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING shall in any way harm you”  (Luke 10:19 AMP).

HOW CAN I ‘KEEP ON, KEEPING ON’, WITHOUT GETTING MAD AT MY REOCCURRING CIRCUMSTANCES?

It’s coming to the REALIZATION…it’s not about you.

It’s a CHRIST thing.

To be a Christian you need to let JESUS, not you, control your life.

You have to SUBMIT to Him fully–not half way; not kinda, sorta, BUT fully!   This allows Him to flow through you.  Remember, you’re going to have problems.  There’s no escaping it.

I have been BLESSED to be a part of 5 Billy Graham Crusades over my Christian life.  I will always remember George Beverly Shea; Canadian born, American gospel singer and hymn composer, who died this past April 2013 at the age of 104.  One song in particular he composed and used to sing at the Crusades fits in nicely I think with 2 Corinthians 4:7-12:  I’d Rather Have Jesus than…

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;

He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;

He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;

I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

WITHOUT HIM, I CAN BE…

–  Crushed

–  Freak Out

–  Be broken

–  Be knocked out

JESUS tells us this:

“And Jesus said,  [You say to Me],  If You can do anything?  [Why,] ALL things can be (are possible) to him who believes!”  (Mark 9:23 AMP).

Separating the Gold From the Junk – (Part One)

A TREATISE ON SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT:

With the my conversations this past week [Adult Sunday School time;  plus trying to define the word “DISCERNMENT” and its meaning with my wife],  the Spirit directed me towards obtaining a clearer understanding.  I hope, as you follow along, you too will have a deeper understanding of discerning.

In its simplest definition, DISCERNMENT is nothing more than the ability to decide between TRUTH AND ERROR, RIGHT AND WRONG!  It is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth.  In other words, the ABILITY to think with DISCERNMENT is synonymous with an ability to think biblically [I will discuss the “GIFT OF DISCERNING SPIRITS” and the differences in Part Two].

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches us that it’s the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning–

21  “Test ALL things; hold fast to what is good. 22  Abstain from every form of evil”  (NKJV).

Paul’s Admonition in a Letter:

Now my pastor used several bible verses relating to the topic of DISCERNMENT, but in particular, my focus in PART ONE will be directed to…

1 Corinthians 2:1-2:16– [The New King James Version].

Christ Crucified–

2  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  [2] For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  [3] I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  [4] And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  [5] that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Spiritual Wisdom

[6]  However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  [7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [“secret”] of the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,  [8] which none of the rulers of this age know; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

[9] But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

[10] But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man who is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the word but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

[13] These things we also speak not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  [14] But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ.

8413196065_fb484f0a2f  The Truths Are Deep, and Yet Simple–

There are no commands in this chapter of I Corinthians 2.  No rebukes given to the First Church of Corinth.  Instead, Paul is calling us all to appreciate and puzzle over what God has given in Christ by the Spirit.  While the truths are deep, at heart, they are very simple.

Paul is arguing against the Corinthians for trying to find some deeper, profound, scholarly wisdom.  When all the depth they ever need is found in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, DISCERNMENT is an area where most Christians stumble.  They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God’s Word.

“SPIRITUAL WISDOM IN A FOOLISH WORLD”

Waylon Jennings lyrics in the classic Country Tune, Lookin’ For Love, started out with the conundrum this way:

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places

Looking for love in too many faces…”

Paul’s Letter to the Corinth Church–

A Church in Greece
A Church in Greece

The church members in a large Greek city also were in a “conundrum”; they were searching for spiritual wisdom in “all the wrong places”.  They had formed elitist groups based on certain teachings and opinions.

We do the same today in our towns and cities.  Church people form groups based on some new spiritual guru, the latest best seller and seminar, seeking with levels of advancement in “spirituality”.  It can get really silly!

In Corinth, what the church thought was WISE…

What was WISE ends up being foolish sometimes and in modern Christian circles, some groups use “buzzwords” to express our take on what it means to be “spiritually mature.”

Ever have someone ask you if you were “full of the Spirit”?  Have you got the “second blessing”?  Does your church believe in the “full gospel”?  I’ve certainly asked the same questions.

Corinthian “Catchwords”–

The apostle Paul uses their buzzwords to reclaim them; re-defining them in the light of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

 In using their language but filling it with his own content, Paul rejects them.  He uses terms that the Corinthians had adopted to justify their spiritual elitism (“wisdom,” “mature,” “secret,” “spiritual”); showing that when these terms are properly understood, they include that which is available to ALL believers, not just the super-spiritual.

The Problem in Corinth–

The problem was not that some Christians didn’t have the Holy Spirit, for all the Christians in Corinth had the Spirit.  The problem was they were not living as spiritual persons ought to live!

Our problem today isn’t that we don’t have what we need to live Christ-like lives, but that we are not embracing what has already been given to us.  We are instead,  “Misfocused In Unfruitful Directions”.

WE’VE BEEN BOMBARDED WITH CLAIMS. 

Claims like: THE KEYS to a happy and healthy Christian Life is to be found in some new technique [Prayer, self-help therapy, a Christian book, spiritual warfare, certain style of worship, personal revelation, a prayer tongue], and on and on.  When these so-called “KEYS”, move away from the humbling, central focus of the Cross of Jesus, we risk becoming elitists, potentially divisive, and if not rejected…can cause a ‘church split.’

Ironically, many deeper life Christian movements have evidently appealed to the church in 1 Corinthians 2; to justify their approach, which is the opposite of Paul’s intent.

Paul’s Intent–

The Apostle’s intent is that we should embrace “spiritual discernment” in God’s wisdom in Christ and by the Spirit.  When we shift our focus off Jesus, to some other secondary teaching or emphasis, we have lost our way.  When we seek and pursue some “deeper” meaning or “better way” that only we and our group have seen, we’ve missed the opportunity of reaching SPIRITUAL MATURITY available to ALL… through Christ and by the Holy Spirit.

Now the Corinthian church members thought they were mature and spiritual in their pursuit of wisdom, but in fact, they were but spiritual infants, missing the TRUE WISDOM of God through His Son.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE “KEY” IN DISCERNMENT:

(Verses 10-12):  “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God.  [11] For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  [12] Now we have received, not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

The Spirit of God knows ALL the things of God, including the DEPTH of who God is, and His thoughts.  So the Spirit can and does enable us to know what God has already given us!

What is amazing to me is what the Holy Spirit does for us; providing for us to know the things God has graciously given to those who believe.

What are the “THINGS” He has provided?

The NIV bible translates “freely given” from the Greek word Charisthenta, from the word GRACE, charis.  So Paul is talking about Christ and everything we have available through JESUS through His cross and we are to grab hold of the WISDOM that is present in Christ Crucified!  This is TRUE WISDOM, which the Spirit makes possible for us to know–to “discern”.

So what do we do with this knowledge?

“…which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words”  (verse 13, NASB bible).

We are to DISCERN SPIRITUALLY, then we are to explain spiritual truth to others around us, all by the POWER of the Holy Spirit.

Then Paul continues the thought in verse 14, sharing that the person without the Spirit doesn’t accept “the things” or “the depth” or understand because…only discerning is through the Spirit.

The ‘natural’, ‘nonspiritual man’ doesn’t accept the truth.  They appear foolish, not understood.  The Greek phrase here doesn’t describe a ‘weak Christian’, but rather a person who doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, so they’re NOT a Christian.

This is a person who lives on a purely human plane, so following Christ crucified doesn’t make sense to them.  It’s like a deaf person trying to listen to music; or like trying to get email on a phone that’s not smart.

THE AMAZING TRUTH REVEALED: 

Separating the Gold from the Junk
Separating the Gold from the Junk

The last two verses in our text brings us to the Amazing Truth:  The ‘Spiritual’ person discerns [or “judges”, “separates”] ALL things–what is wise and foolish, by sifting out the gold from the junk.

[15]  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  [16] For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?”  But we have the mind of Christ. 

The Holy Spirit of God enables us to DISCERN WISDOM as we evaluate ALL LIFE with the mind of Christ.

Paul Verifies His Final Point:

Paul’s reference to a Scripture quotation in the Old Testament from Isaiah 40:13, asking rhetorically: ‘for Scripture says who can know God’s mind?  Who can instruct God?’

Of course the answer is that no one can; no one knows the mind of the Lord, which makes the final phrase seem so outrageous.  He says…we can know God’s mind.  He says…but we have the mind of Christ.

By the Spirit we have the mind of JESUS which is to have the mind of God.

If you want to continue looking at the word DISCERNING, you might look up and read some other *Bible verses in reference to this study in 1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2:16.

 In Part Two, we will again look at DISCERNMENT, but as a spiritual gift of discerning “spirits” and the understanding within the context of the verses found in 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 2..

*Bible References for DISCERNMENT:  [1 John 4:1; Hebrews 4:12; Philippians 1:9-10; Hebrews 5:14; Proverbs 3:1-12; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Kings 3:9; Proverbs 18:15]. 

“I DO DECLARE!” – More than an Expression

FIRST, LET ME START WITH A DEFINITION:

“To DECLARE is defined as to state or announce something publicly; to say positively or emphatically”  (Your Dictionary).

So, with that definition in mind, for us to DECLARE something–we are going to have to open our mouth and SPEAK–to “say so”.

“Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that JESUS is LORD and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9 AMP).

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes…”  (Romans 1:16).

“And He (JESUS) said to them,  Come after Me [as disciples–letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!”  (Matthew 4:19 AMP).

SECONDLY, TO CONSIDER OUR REDEMPTION BEFORE DECLARING:

Psalm 107:2

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has delivered from the hand of the adversary.”

It is evident that the Psalmist considered the mercy of God and the delivery of Israel from the hand of the enemy, of such extent, that those who had been redeemed were to DECLARE their redemption by God’s hand so that they all might know God’s POWER, LOVE and MERCY.  Their redemption was something about which one could REJOICE, PRAISE GOD, and DECLARE–tell others.

When you consider that their redemption was a physical redemption from the hand of another nation, by contrast the magnitude of our spiritual redemption in Christ Jesus becomes paramount.

The apostle Paul stated that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law and the blessing of Abraham might come upon us (Galatians 13:13-14).  He further taught that those who lived under the Law were redeemed by JESUS; where they might receive the adoption of sons and daughters and become heirs of God (Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 9:15, 11:39-40; Romans 8:16-17).

So then, if the physical deliverance of Israel was considered sufficient cause for them to DECLARE their redemption, how much more should the greatness of our redemption cause us to SHOUT about our redemption from the roof tops (Matthew 10:27; Luke 12:3).

Declaring of the Redeemed
Declaring of the Redeemed

Can you imagine some of your neighbors conversing in the middle of the street about the ‘religious crank’, shouting on top of their roof,  “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

It’s More Than Just Knowing the Spiritual Facts–

If the people of God today were made to realize the greatness of God’s love, mercy, and goodness toward them in Christ Jesus, their mouths couldn’t be muzzled; kept from declaring to others what God has done for them and keeps doing for them.

God so designed His kingdom to be dependent upon the REDEEMED of the Lord–the born again believers–the SAVED in Christ Jesus; not to just know it; think about it; demonstrate it by good deeds and that’s all good!  But it comes down simply to… the “saying so”.

GOD HAS GIVEN THE REDEEMED A RESPONSIBILITY:

A “responsibility” of PREACHING and TEACHING the Gospel of His Son.

To DECLARE and "Say So"
To DECLARE and “Say So”

To the REDEEMED, Jesus said to His disciples “Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul said that “For when the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy,  God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [salvation, procured by Christ and to be had through Him], to save those who believed (who clung to and trusted in and relied on Him)”  (1 Corinthians 1:21 AMP).

REDEMPTION PRODUCES DISCIPLES AND TO DECLARE:

In preparing for this POST, I ran across article by the Author Tim Stevens, entitled Three Points On Discipleship:

#1.  A DISCIPLE has his feet pointed toward JESUS and is moving.

#2.  A DISCIPLE-MAKER is intentionally taking someone else along for the journey.

#3.  A MATURE DISCIPLE doesn’t require anyone else to continue taking steps with and toward JESUS.

The Responsibility of “Preaching” or “Teaching” God’s Truth is that Man May Be Saved–

Sorry to tell this to the Church, but this responsibility isn’t placed in the hands of predetermined clergy of the community you live in.  The New Testament knows of no clergy distinction.  Every Christian is to grow in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ          (2 Peter 3:18); to sanctify–set apart–the Lord God their hearts and to be ready always to give an answer to every man or woman who asks them a reason of hope that’s inside of them (1 Peter 3:15).

Paul scolded Christians who by reason of time…should have been teachers–“mature disciples” but who had not grown in knowledge.  Rather than being “disciple makers”, they still needed someone to teach the elementary principles of the Gospel (Hebrews 5:12).

When Christians were dispersed from Jerusalem because of persecution “they…went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

Paul instructed Timothy, saying “And the [instruction] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also”  (2 Timothy 2:2).  The REDEEMED of the Lord are to “say so.”

THERE ARE MANY REASONS THE “REDEEMED” DON’T SAY SO:

Some are lacking LOVE for the Lord.  JESUS said,

The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me…(John 14:21). 

And verse 24 continues with:

Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.  And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me.

Since the Lord JESUS has placed the responsibility of DECLARING the MESSAGE of REDEMPTION upon the REDEEMED, a failure to “say so” indicates a lack of love of the Lord and others; our neighbors.

Still others are ashamed of the Gospel.  They will talk to others about everything but their redemption (Romans 1:16).  After an unscientific observation, men in particular are guilty of this remission.  I’ve particularly noticed how men will stand congregated before and after a Sunday worship service discussing the weather, tractors (I live in a rural community),  politics and the world while the their wives discuss Book Clubs, ministering to the needy, upcoming Bible studies, etc.  Why is that?

Many put other things first and make no arrangements of time or opportunity to teach God’s plan of redemption to others [making disciples–“fishers of men”].

Many others are worldly (1 John 2:15); not interested in spiritual things, consequently are not really personally concerned with those who are not saved; redeemed.  Since the Body of Christ is called the CHURCH–a body must have feet, so we better start walking; quit leaving the results to the “visitation pastor”.  “Say so” yourself!

Truthfully, the redeemed of the Lord should lay aside every hindrance, to be busy DECLARING GOD’S MESSAGE (Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 5:7).

Have We Mislaid the Importance of “Declaring the Word” and “Disciple Making” in our Churches?

Churches today are so focused on getting “new-comers” placed in a ministry first, “Disciple Making” from “Disciple-Makers” have disappeared.  Oh, I know, I’ve read the official church statement on the bulletin–“what we BELIEVE”–often quotes Matthew 28:19-20, but who are the DISCIPLE-MAKERS in the Body of Christ?  Where did they go?

WHO ARE THE “DISCIPLE-MAKERS”?

A disciple-maker is someone who God brings into your life, who you intentionally enter into an up-close personal, life-long relationship with.  I’ve heard Christian physiologist say, “you will probably on have two or three ‘up-close personal, life-long relationships’ in a lifetime.”  Let me say, “It only takes ONE!

The purpose of this Holy Spirit inspired relationship is “teaching them to observe all things that Jesus commanded you”. 

OBEDIENCE here is not to the disciple-maker, but to the Word of God.  It’s learning to agree with someone else’s directions, yielding your contrary opinions, in favor of the written Word (Romans 12:2).

It is not blind, unquestioning obedience with everything a disciple-maker says, even in decisions related to making purchases, where to go on vacations, or changing jobs.

The New Testament teaches the necessity of discernment (1 John 4:1), mutual submission (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 5:21), and accountability to God (Rom. 14:21; Gal. 6:5).  BOTH disciple and disciple-maker are transformed in the process.  BOTH are a various points along the journey, but the marks of the seasoned disciple-maker’s life can be evidenced by greater depths of fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

“Declaring” and “Discipling”–A Lot “Under the Hood”–

There is SIMPLICITY here in the announcement:  If you are waiting on, relying on the church to feed you spiritually, you are probably NOT a mature disciple.

Accounting For Different Relationships–

The church can only be a PART of the equation.  DISCIPLES, in declaring God’s Word, must have a personal relationship with JESUS (up), as well as relationships with other people in church (in), AND… relationships with people far from God (out).  Each set of relationships has a purpose in the life of a DISCIPLE–a follower of JESUS.

Philips, Craig and Dean bring to the forefront the thought of DECLARE IT–TO SAY SO in a popular song “Let the Redeemed”–

Let the redeemed declare it

Look what God has done

Tell of his endless mercy

And His everlasting love.

Let the redeemed declare it

Name above all names

Lift high this King most holy

Lavish Him with praise

Let the redeemed.

Now is the TIME FOR THE REDEEMED TO “SAY SO”–TO DECLARE WHAT HE HAS DONE and become MATURE DISCIPLES under Holy Spirit’s guidance!