Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Christ will Build His Church...Go Make Disciples

I am preparing for some upcoming teaching and have really started reflecting on a couple of truths. The first one is found in the statement by Christ in Matthew 16:18, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Let it be known upfront that I do not affirm that Jesus meant He would build His church on Peter. Rather, I think He's referring to the truth that Peter had just professed in verse 16, "Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God'." Anyway, what I want to mention is the promise that Jesus says He will build His church. This is a great promise. In a time and age when we are constantly bombarded with all kinds of ideas and gimmicks to 'build the church' or 'grow the church', I find it refreshing that Jesus didn't ask us to build the church. Jesus promised that He would build His church. There is no way to stress enough that we must rest assured that Jesus is sovereign and able to do all that He has proclaimed.

The second truth, however, helps us to see the means by which He will build His church. When you look at Matthew 28:18-20 you will read what has become known as The Great Commission. In this passage the emphasis is on making disciples of all nations. That is the command from Christ. We are called to make disciples. But doesn't that put the emphasis on us doing the work? How is it that Jesus can say He will build the church AND tell us to be the ones who go and make disciples? This question misses a very important connection. First of all, making disciples (verse 19) is rooted in the fact that Jesus has all authority (verse 18). So, Jesus has the authority to send us out to make disciples. Now, if we think that it's our going out that will enable us to grow the church, we have once again mistaken. I say that because Jesus has already stated that He would build His church, and then at the end of the Great Commission He promises that as we go and make disciples that He will be with us! We are not the ones building the church with our creative ways of reaching the culture. We are the instruments used by Christ, but He is the One building His church! Beloved, may we not ever think we can build His church. May we trust that He will build His church trough us and that we are simply called to be faithful in the proclamation of the gospel (which is how we make disciples!).

Now, more could be (and needs to be) said for what it means to 'make disciples of all nations.' For this post, however, I will mention just a couple of things. First of all, it does not mean that we need to get someone to pray a prayer. That is nowhere to be found in Scripture. Secondly, we do not need to get people to 'do' something for their salvation (in terms of any kind of work for their salvation). Finally, we do need to proclaim the gospel and call people to repent of their sins and thrust themselves completely on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. We need people to know that Christ has all authority over them. We need them to see that they've offended the Holy God of the universe. We need them to see that apart from Christ they have nothing to offer God. And we need them to see that becoming a disciple is about becoming a follower, or pupil, of Christ. That is why we teach them to observe all that Christ has commanded. He is Lord! He builds His church by His power and authority. We are simply instruments or tools in the hands of the redeemer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Need the Gospel

As I'm finishing up my sermon prep this morning, I've been reading through Daniel Doriani's book on the Sermon on the Mount. My text for this coming Sunday is Matthew 5:33-37, which deals with oaths and telling the truth. It's a great call for the disciples of Christ to be truth tellers who are trustworthy in all their dealings. However, Doriani suggests that Jesus continues to call us to more difficult tasks as the Sermon goes forth. Indeed, this is true, as we see a great command in Matthew 5:48, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." It appears that Jesus is setting us up for an impossible task. That is why we need the gospel. The following paragraph is how Doriani addresses the issue:
We need the gospel. It teaches us to ask the one who gives the standard to forgive us for breaking it. We ask the one who kept the standard in perfect righteousness to give us his righteousness and clothe us with it. And the Lord does it. He accepts us as his children and grants us the family resemblance that he requires. For the hardest command is also stated in a way that gives hope. Translated literally, Matthew 5:48 states, "You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect." We rightly read the words "You shall be perfect" as a command, yet, reading it again, we notice that it hides a promise: you shall be perfect.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two Glorious Truths that Must go Together

This morning I read through some of 1 Kings and saw two verses of great truths that ought to be taken together and give great hope to the church. The first verse is in 1 Kings 8:39. This is in the midst of a prayer by Solomon. He is asking the Lord to fill the place that Solomon has built for God and to remember the people of Israel when they fall way, but repent and call upon the Lord. in a parenthetical remark Solomon says, "for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind." No matter who you/the are, lost or saved, the Lord knows your hearts. Of course, this is NOT a good thing for those who are unbelievers disguising themselves as believers. It is also scary news for those who understand the depth of sin in their own hearts. However, when taken with the second verse that I've been meditating on this morning, it's amazing.

The second verse comes after the prayer of Solomon. He finishes his prayer, and then he stands up and speaks to the people his benediction. In 1 Kings 8:58 Solomon says, "that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded to our fathers." The Lord, the Lord alone, knows the hearts of all the children of mankind and He alone has the authority and power to incline our hearts to Him.

This truth must go together in our evangelism, our ministry, our shepherding, our leading, our loving, our very lives. It is great to know that He knows every heart AND that He is able, completely able, to incline the hearts of man to obey God.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lloyd-Jones on Sin and Evangelism

I realize I have not given a good D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones quote in a while, so here is one on the importance of the doctrine of sin from his commentary on Matthew 5:27-30:

There is no evangelism without the doctrine of sin, and without an understanding of what sin is. I do not want to be unfair, but I say that a gospel which merely says, 'Come to Jesus', and offers Him as a Friend, and offers a marvelous new life, without convicting of sin, is not New Testament evangelism. The essence of evangelism is to start by preaching the law; and it is because the law has not been preached that we have had so much superficial evangelism. Go through the ministry of our Lord Himself and you cannot but get the impression that at times, far from pressing people to follow Him and to decide for Him, He put great obstacles in their way. He said in effect, 'Do you realize what you are doing? Have you counted the cost? Do you realize where it may lead you? Do you know that it means denying yourself, taking up your cross daily and following me?' True evangelism, I say, because of this doctrine of sin, must always start by preaching the law.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Church Planting Network

I had the opportunity to talk with Timmy Brister today about a new church planting network. I believe church planting is at the heart of God. There have been several good networks popping up over the country lately, and this one is as well. I would encourage you to check out PLNTD. As it develops it will be a great tool for churches to plant churches and for planters to find resources, relationships, and future residencies. Check it out!