Monday, January 31, 2011


Last week - the four functions of the church - Worship, Nurture, Ministry, Evangelism

Today - MINISTRY - doing good to people on God's behalf.
1 John 3:16-19 - ("truth")

1. We're called to help people - Biblical mandate throughout scripture, Jesus modeled, Biblical reason
2 We're equipped to help people - resourced with spiritual gifts, emotional well-being, finances, etc.
3. few of us minister to capacity given the resources and opportunities God has given us.
4. we need to examine and expand our ministry efforts...

That said, we still must ask "when should we refuse to help???"
(ie: given time/resources/opportunities .... is it ever right to refuse?

Answer: You should refuse to help when helping is not helpful.

3 personal questions..... if you are then one responsible for the decision..
#1. what should you do?
#2. what would you do?
#3. What if what you should do does not match what you would do? (who is irresponsible now??)

#1. We are called to help (aid/assist) NOT merely to give to people.
#2. Not all "help" is helpful. Examples: doing kids' homework, supporting grown kids, bailing out guilty family members, etc.
#3. Jesus didn't always say "yes". John 6:22-26

Breakdown from the book "When Helping Hurts".
Three levels of ministry/assistance

Relief: immediate, temporary assistance to reduce suffering (or prevent suffering)
Rehabilitation: an attempt to restore to a pre-crisis state.
Development: an attempt to develop beyond the pre-crisis state (in hope of avoiding future crisis)

Scenarios are endless but here are some questions for assessment.
#1. Is there truly a crisis? if not, no need for relief.

#2. If so, to what degree is the individual responsible? The point is not punish, but not promote irresponsible behavior!

#3. Can the individual help 'self? Does he have the ability to help himself? Also, to what degree? Sometimes relief is the best we can do.

#4. Has past help been well used? Stewardship

#5. If the person is able to help 'self, is it right to continue to assist? (to enable/promote irresponsible behavior?) 2 Thess. 3:6, 10-13

#6. If the person responds to rehabilitation and development how long and how far should we assist?

The point of all of the above is, does "helping" help???

Keep in mind.....
#1. We are called to minister (help) not merely give!
John 6:14-15 Luke 12:13-15

#2. We answer to the Lord, not to the request.

#3. The right thing is not always the easiest thing, and that's irresponsible.

#4. Often you won't know what's the right thing. You have to do the best you can with right heart, right attitude.

#5. When unsure, err on the side of mercy (compassion) - (this is not a cop out for decision making!)

#6. Don't let the abusers harden you toward the needy.

God calls us to be His hands and feet. We cannot do that unless we have some of His heart and mind. Can't be ignorant about God's will in order to be able to do what's right.

Heb. 13:20-21

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Four Foundations of the Church

Life goes better when we function as designed!
So....... church design????? church function?????
On one hand there is no scripture with a list. BUT, there is plenty of scripture to construct a list.



#1. If
these are functions of the church, then they are functions of a church.
#2. A church functions only as well as its individual members.
#3. If you want to be part of a functioning church, then the body has to be functioning as well.

I. WORSHIP - to ascribe worth to/declare value of something or someone.
It is usually visible/audible (sing/shout/praise/give thanks/give money)
Not everyone is wired to naturally worship. BUT, all should worship - no one is exempt. John 4:23-24

A. Corporate worship begins with gathering (attending)
B. when you come, you should bring an offering. Deut. 16:16-17
(worship is more about giving than receiving)
C. God is not the one who gains (benefits) when we worship Him. The ones who benefit are other believers, non-believers, and the one giving worship!

II. Nurture - to supply nourishment/aid in development/promote growth and well being/build up/raise up/care for..... and is mainly aimed at other Christians. Not just spiritual.
Example: Jesus "nurtured" the 12 disciples/Paul "nurtured" Timothy.... Eph. 4:11-16
Everyone needs nurturing.

Obviously - teaching/training/resourcing....
But also - greeting/encouraging/praying for/transporting/modeling/making feel welcome, valuable, significant...

On one hand it is reasonable to expect your church to nurture you... On the other hand, it is reasonable for the church to expect you to nurture!!!!
Too many times, people come to church with an "entitlement attitude". It's all about what's in it for me.

III. Ministry - to help/aid/serve/do good to PEOPLE - all people. This means acting on God's behalf to help PEOPLE. (physical/emotional/spiritual/relational/financial....)

Jesus is our role model and teacher: Acts 10:37-38 - because
A. Portrays the Father - Matt. 5:43-48
B. Benefits mankind (created in His image/for whom Christ died)
C. Softens the hearts and minds of non-believers (opens eyes/doors)
D. Develops the minister (you)

IV. Evangelism - the attempt to introduce people to God through Jesus Christ! That's all we can do. We are to make the effort.
Must have the Spirit convicting/Father drawing
But, evangelism is our part int eh salvation process - Rom. 10:13-14, Rev. 22:17
Just a social gospel without evangelism.

Evangelism is central to the Christian life and church function.... whether it is:
A. direct - verbal witness
B. indirect - evangelistic support - AWANA/missions, prayer support, etc.

To be a healthy, balanced, functioning church, we (as a church group) cannot overlook or exclude any of these functions.

To be a healthy, balanced, function church, YOU (individual member) cannot overlook, exclude any of these functions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Church

During the 60's movement - "Jesus, yes. Church, no". Young people especially - leaving the "organized church", organized religion.

Compare today: especially young adults - "Yes" to Jesus, spirituality, God, but "No" to church once again. "No" to traditional worship, music, liturgy, etc.

Question: Is this reasonable? Valid? Practical? Biblical? Helpful?
Answer: on one hand, the church is far from perfect. There is a constant need for assessment and correction in the church.
But, Jesus and the church are inseparable.

DEFINITION: church is the community (gathering) of believers. (in Christ/Christianity)

BROAD APPLICATION: house church: Rom 16:5 citywide church - 1 Cor. 1:2 region - Acts 9:31
Therefore, could be THE church (universal) , the churches (places in an area) or a church (local body)


I. Scripturally
A. Founded by Christ - Matt. 16:18
B. Paid for by Christ - Acts 20:28
C. Identified with Christ - Acts 9:4 -
D. and extension of Christ - body - Eph. 1:22-23, 4:11-12

Question: Can you accept Him and reject His church??? Can't separate the two.
Compare: Stalin - yes/communism - no. They are inseparable.

II. Historically - the church is the:
A. Primary means of spreading the gospel
B. Primary means of developing believers
C. Primary place of worship and prayer
D. Primary platform for mission work
E. Primary pipeline for mission support

You find that where Christianity grows, the church grows, and where the church grows, Christianity grows. They are parallel, go hand in hand.

III. Individually.
The Jesus people mentioned earlier either:
A. fell away as it was just a fad
B. entered established churches
C. started new churches!! Because that's what happens when people embrace Christ.

Christianity does not (cannot) thrive apart from the church.
Christians do not (cannot) thrive apart from the church.

You cannot (legitimately/effectively) separate Christ and the church - Biblically, historically, doctrinally, practically, etc.

#1. The church is not perfect. Because it consists of people - all of whom are sinners.
Some of whom are lost. - 2 Tim. 2:16-20

#2. The church is in constant need of critique and correction.
Christians should be the harshest critics, but for correction not destruction. - Example: correct a child to build up or to tear down?

#3. The faults of the church do not negate the benefits of the church. Example: the sex scandal in the Catholic church. Terrible, yes, but that doesn't mean that everything that the Catholic church has accomplished over the past two thousand years should be thrown out.

#4. It's foolish to abandon the church because of the faults.
Comparisons: do away with public education because had some students dropout.
Do away with hospitals because some people have not recovered, or died.

#5. It's detrimental to abandon the church because of its faults.
A. Detrimental to the church because it handicaps the functioning of the church
B. Detrimental to you - does the body need the hand???
C. Detrimental to yours - does the hand need the body???

Given the evidence, we Christians should be church:
1. Participants - more than attendees, but actually doing something in the church
2. supporters
3. adjusters
4. promoters

Bill Hybols once said, "the New Testament church is the hope of the world"

There is value in Christ without the church. The church is not necessary for salvation.
There is value in church without Christ!! - not eternally, but for the here and now.

BUT, the design, ideal, God's will, intent??? - the church and Christ.!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Walking by Faith (not by sight)

2 Cor. 5:7 - "for we walk by faith and not by sight."

This verse is:
#1. parenthetical - is not in the original text.
A. was inserted in the broader passage: (life/death/trials/rewards)
B. could be left out without changing the text
#2. it's broadly applicable - could be inserted in dozens of other New testaments texts an fit without changing the text or it could stand alone.
example: loving your neighbor when that neighbor is perhaps unlovable - we do it by faith and not by sight,/thanking God - for we walk by faith and not by sight,/suffering well/looking for Christ's return
#3. it's very adaptable - for any Christian who.... attends church (why do you attend church? - because I walk by faith, not by sight)/pays a tithe/ says grace/ works in AWANA, gives thanks at a funeral

So, let's examine the verse and the application.

Definition of "faith" - as we are talking about faith.
Faith is Christian confidence in God and Christ, His Son, and in His promises.

So, (based on scripture) we are confident in God's - concern for us/presence with us/involvement/ability to fix everything/wisdom/etc.
So, also, we are confident in life after death/eternal life after death/triumph of righteousness/abolition of evil, pain, and suffering/future rewards/the Lordship of Christ....

The verse does not mean that we don't believe what we see. We do believe what we see.
The verse means we believe what we see... and MORE than we see.
OR, based on what we do see, we believe some things that we can't see.

Illustration: John 20:27-28
Thomas - by sight believed that Jesus is alive/ by Faith believed that Jesus is Lord.!

So, when we can't see God's wisdom, power, sense His presence, concern - then we walk by faith believing more than I see (which is based on what I've seen)
John 20:29
1 Pet. 1:8
Heb. 11:1
2 Cor. 4:16-18

Three things to consider:

I. The origin of this faith
II. The development of this faith
III. The implementation of this faith

I. The origin of the faith (where does it come from?)
A. encountered - usually at a later age when have been living a non-Christian life
B. acquired - brought up in the faith with believing parents, grandparents, etc.
But also...
C. inherent - Eccles. 3:11 - Everyone has enough faith to take the first steps
D. a gift - Eph. 2:8-9

Point being: the faith is available but you must accept it and develop it!!

II. The development of the faith. (walking and improving our walk)
A. exposure to the Word - Rom. 1:17
B. openness to the Holy Spirit - 1 Cor. 2:9-10
C. responding to the light given. Example: realize that Jesus is the Christ but don't accept Him leads to ???
D. Practicing the faith - learn to walk by walking. Same way you learn to drive, cook, skate, etc.
E. Exposure to the faith of others - biographies of giants of the faith, stories, personal tests
F. Reflection on past victories
G. reflection on present blessings - should give you faith to walk tomorrow
H. developing your relationship with God - quiet time, prayer, Bible reading, thanksgiving, reflection, etc.

God will grant faith and assist your faith, but YOU must accept and develop it!

III. The implementation of the faith (putting it to work)
Because we're not to just consider/contemplate/prefer/accept/embrace/preach/promote, etc. the faith.
We are to WALK (live) the faith. There is no "pouring on" of faith.

So....... two examinations:
1. examine your faith 2 Cor. 13:5 (a) - "test yourselves"
2. examine your walk Eph. 4:1 - hinge verse. Because of all that was said in the first three chapters, do what's in the last three chapters.