What a Question!

pondering-manI was teaching an adult Bible class from John 15. The text made the point that Christians must bear fruit. I pointed out the necessity of remaining in Christ. If we fail to walk in Jesus we can’t bear fruit. We must live our lives as Jesus lived His life. Our Messiah came first to seek and save the lost, Luke 19:10. Second, according to Acts 10:38, Jesus went about doing good. In order that we walk in the footsteps of the Christ we must emphasize doing good as we reach out to the lost. During the class one of the men asked a great question. He asked, “Why is it that some churches around us grow while many times we don’t?” We will never make a major difference until we find this answer. It is absolutely essential that we honestly deal with the question. For too many years we have offered the same pat answer. The answer we have given is, “We are teaching truth everyone else is telling the people what they want to hear, therefore, they grow and we don’t.” I refuse to accept this answer, because it is not truth! One of the fastest growing groups in the United States today is the Mormans. There is absolutely no way that converting someone to Joseph Smith is easier than bringing them to Jesus! It is time we faced the truth. It is not more difficult to convert people to truth than to error. Our excuses leave the impression that God’s truth is unpleasant and has no drawing power. It is time we stop offering excuses that make us feel better. We need to face some hard facts. We have become satisfied with far less than that which pleases God. We have come to accept the following idea. We think if one holds the accepted “five items of worship” and keeps the correct “patterns of doctrine” God is pleased with him. Our emphasis on these points has crippled our ability to make a difference in peoples lives. Scripture refers to followers of God as the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Salt and light have one thing in common, they make things better. Christians who make things better do so by bearing fruit. Christians who bear fruit are those who go about doing good. If we do good we make a difference in peoples lives. The more lives we effect the more opportunities we have to preach Jesus. Don’t miss this! THE REASON OTHERS GROW AND WE DON’T IS SIMPLE. THEY ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MORE PEOPLE. We have been so concerned about worship patterns and doctrine we have forgotten to follow Jesus. Following in the footsteps of Jesus requires much more than arguing Scripture. We can bear very little fruit unless we change our emphasis and direction. “Why is it some churches around us grow while we don’t?” Wow what a question! It is time we face up to the answer. Growth requires being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We can be neither of these until we are willing to make a difference in the communities we call home.

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6 Responses to What a Question!

  1. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Dell, You have written a faithful word that convicts many of us. We are often so much concerned about our personal affairs, that we have little compassion for people in need all around us. Too often we are like the priest and the Levite who ignored the man in the ditch (Lk.10). Beyond our immature self-centeredness, many of us carry the foul odor
    of our own righteousnesses (Isa. 64:6). For we love to distinguish ourselves from others who trust Jesus by pointing to differences between us and them. Paul declared
    “for we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord,…”
    2 Cor. 4:6. But many in churches of Christ, proclaim the
    Church of Christ. Not only have we failed to imitate Jesus’ compassion, but we are ignorant of the good news of God that brings salvation. The root problem is that many church members have never received the birth from Above (John 3).
    They have been baptized, but never surrendered the deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9) to be repeatedly cleansed by
    confession of our sins (1 John 1:8-9). At the end of John 9, Jesus says to some Pharisees,”but now you say, we see,
    YOUR SINS REMAIN.” Because I was raised in cofC, it took me a long time to recognize the problem: many have never received the birth from Above.

  2. Don says:

    Dell, you and Wayne are right. I appreciate the boldness of this post and Wayne’s response. We must not be passive in our efforts to help people to “see the light.” Blessings, Don

  3. James Dale says:

    THE REASON OTHERS GROW AND WE DON’T IS SIMPLE. THEY ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MORE PEOPLE.

    Hmmm. I have just started reading your blog and have to say I am doing so with a raised eyebrow, (Literally)

    From past posts you make constant reference to the “church of Christ” and the traditions and doctrines we follow.

    In regards to this post i’ll stick with one. Can someone be saved without being baptized for the remission of sins? (no need for me to mention the myriads of scripture here) If the the answer is no, then what real difference have these other churches made in the lives of these people? They now have more friends? They feel better about themselves? They have left addictions behind? Yet, in the end what is their true everlasting state?

    On the one hand your blog often addresses how we in the church if Christ hinge our faith on the “five acts of worship,” and having all things doctrinally right. Yet why omit the fact that these other churches extend grace where God never has. Is it better to be in God’s grace, seeking to do what you know is what God desires, having spent years in the study of God’s word; or is it better to think you are in God’s grace and conclude it doesn’t matter what you do in regards to worship and other aspects of the Christian life?

  4. James,
    Thanks for your response. I am delighted you are reading and even more delighted you are doing so with a raised eyebrow. It is rare that we raise an eyebrow without genuine thought and study.
    You are keen in your observations. You have rightly noticed that we in the church hinge our identity on correct doctrine and worship. I commend you on your observations.
    With the previous thoughts behind us, let’s determine what can be done to improve where we place the importance of identity. Presently we find ourselves much like the observer on the Titanic. We commend ourselves on how well we have done the decor while the ship sinks from under us. Today, we commend ourselves on how well we do Sunday worship while the world dies in sin.
    From my knowledge of Northside I strongly suspect you are very similar to the church here. If Payson is in the business of being religious we do quite well, but if we find our identity in preaching Jesus and doing our part in changing the eternal destiny of souls we are quite inept.
    James we must find a way to change what we stress as most important. We aren’t in the restoration business nor is our identity found in being guardians of truth. We are here to preach Jesus to the world while seeking and saving that which is lost. Perfect doctrine contained in a box is no doctrine at all. Unless we find a way to share the message we become irrelevant. Thanks for your thoughts, may God bless your continued efforts to preach Jesus.

  5. Wayne McDaniel says:

    Two Formulas, Same Tragedy

    “Repent ye, and believe in the gospel” – Mark 1:15
    “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of
    Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” – Acts 2:38

    The revival that occurred at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in August 1801 gave birth to a movement that solidified into churches of Christ and Christian churches. Among these churches, the words of Peter spoken on Pentecost have come to be accepted as the way of entering into relationship with Jesus. Among many other churches, a person wanting to know how to respond to Jesus will be told to repent and believe in him. These two distinct formulas are given to many who seek forgiveness of sins through Jesus.

    Yet in both groups of churches, there are many who seem to
    lack a desire to place Jesus above all others. What is wrong? Could it be that the emphasis has been wrong in both formulas? While many emphasize “believe”, and
    others “be baptized”, has there been a failure to
    make clear repent ? It seems that for many who profess
    Jesus, there has been no repentance toward God .

    Paul reminded the elders of Ephesus what he had preached
    among them, “testifying both to Jews and Greeks repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”- Acts 20:21 Our pride in the presence of our
    Creator is the fundamental abomination that must end.

    From a surrender toward God we begin to see our desperate condition-and Jesus as the only one who can rescue us. But without the unforgettable acceptance that my Creator has the right to rule over me, my heart will forever maneuver in pride.

    Carefully explaining the etymology of the Greek word
    metanoeo (repent) does not assure it occurs in the heart of
    anyone. This is not so much a teaching to be grasped by our
    intellect, as it is the surrender of our will. Our will must
    be broken in order to be replaced with his -a desire to do
    his Father’s will. The lack of repentance toward God
    creates make-believers that are without the life from Above.

    Only a broken heart can be made new. Only a heart that has been pierced with the sight of its guilt will receive the
    Spirit from Above. Many teachers in many churches have
    failed to emphasize the necessity of this surrender. Why?
    A truly broken heart is disturbing. See 1 Cor. 14:24-5, &
    Luke 16:16. Jesus likened being born of spirit to the trauma
    of childbirth in John 3. To effectively teach repentance, we
    must be broken ourselves, and a heart that has been broken by Jesus’ death will be recognized.

    True repentance toward God will inevitably result in many
    subsequent surrenders. As the Spirit leads us closer to God,
    we see the remaining sin in our hearts more clearly. This
    requires repeated surrender and confession, and is the
    process of sanctification. This transforms us and we see we
    do not outgrow our need for Jesus to cover and cleanse us.
    We do not have life in ourselves. Only Jesus is our future.
    He is ” meek and lowly in heart “, and all that are born from Above are becoming like him .

    Jesus’ death because of our rebellion against his Father is the story to break our pride again and again. Our flesh wants to pass over the story quickly to view more
    comfortable topics. But we must be brought back to see Jesus giving up his life for us. His supper is for this, and
    everyone who teaches Jesus should make clear,
    ” except you repent, you shall all likewise perish .” – Luke 13:5 It is not too late for anyone who will surrender their heart to the Lord.
    “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts .”
    – Hebrews 4:7

  6. Dennis says:

    One of my favorite “light-shedding” passages is Mark 12:28-34 (NIV) because it not only gives the story, but it adds additional events which help us to see where the emphasis should be place. This passage starts out with,
    “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    [29] “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. [30] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [31] The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
    [32] “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.” (Isn’t it interesting from this side of the cross to see that this teacher of the law was giving Jesus, the Master, a pat on the back? Then the teacher of the law added the following interesting statement,) [33] To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (That seems like a pretty brazen statement for this teacher of the law to be down playing these legalistic requirements. And what was Jesus reaction to this?–
    “[34] When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.” (Was Jesus just confirming that loving God and loving your neighbor was more important than keeping the rules? I think he was. And when you compound that with other passages like the one that said “Sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath,” and “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” you start getting the idea that maybe we’ve been placing the emphasis in the wrong place all these years. One final passage from 1 Peter 4, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” How many sins does sound doctrine cover? If I mess up, I hope I err on the side of love, because I sure don’t want to be a sounding dong or a clanging cymbal. As Jesus told Martha, “Mary has chosen better.”
    God Bless,
    Dennis

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