Building on the Ruins of Religion: Part 4 of 5

shutterstock_112086005A COMMAND FOR PERFECTION

One of the factors that determine whether a minister succeeds or fails in reaching men is in how well they comply with the Great Commission found in Matthew 28.

Matthew 28:19-20
(19)  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
(20)  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Notice, this command says “teach all people” and “baptize in them in the name” and then to “teach them to observe all things…” Most churches will tell people they should be born again. This is the Great Commission’s first “teach.” And of course they will baptize them if so asked, which fulfills the “baptize in the name.”  But where they notoriously fall short is in not pursuing the last “teach ALL things….” This latter part of Jesus’ command comes through the five-fold ministry’s involvement in Church. Their collective influence is what the Bible says perfects—matures—a man for the work of his own ministry.

(PLEASE NOTE: any Bolds, UPPERCASES, Underlines, or [bracketed area comments] are added by me.)

Ephesians 4:11-12
(11)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12)  FOR THE PERFECTING OF THE SAINTS, for the WORK OF THE MINISTRY, for THE EDIFYING OF THE BODY OF CHRIST:

Once the Great Commission’s teaching of “all things” is facilitated, Ephesians 4 promises this man will learn to serve, and that transformation will make both his Church and his family grows stronger. The following statistic is from the Baptist Press article; Want your church to grow? Then bring in the men. Please, take special note of the stated impact that comes from such spiritual grow:

Did you know that if a child is the first person in a household to become a Christian, there is a 3.5 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow? If the mother is the first to become a Christian, there is a 17 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow. But if the father is first, there is a 93 percent probability everyone else in the household will follow.

“The statistics,” Sid Woodruff, men’s ministry specialist, said, “shout the importance of churches becoming more intentional in their development of ministries for men. If you reach the men, you reach the families, but to reach the men, you have to enter into their world. Of about 94 million men in the United States,” Woodruff said, “68 million don’t attend any church, but 85 percent of those say they did grow up with some sort of church background. These men aren’t necessarily opposed to going to church; they just don’t see churches as being ‘male-friendly.’”

Ministers not focused on developing men in their congregations will find the spiritual growth of that church stunted. This problem often occurs when a Pastor preaches more for numbers of men in the pews, than for changing the hearts of the men in the pews. Such disregard has caused many to become disillusioned with both their church and with their relationship with God. Such disappointment then bleeds over into the body affecting both its personality and its accomplishments.

From his book, The Company of the Committed, Elton Trueblood writes:

“It is strange to see how slow we are to understand what the acceptance of the idea of a Christian company entails. Thus, when we organize a commitment service, we tend, unless we make a conscious effort at improvement, to have the familiar pattern of the single performer. If, by contrast, many share in the observance—whether in reading Scripture or in public prayer or in admonition—there are two enormous gains. One is that even those who do not participate vocally begin to have a sense that they are more than audience; the other is that the commitment of those who do participate vocally is normally made deeper and more genuine. Preaching may not, but it is almost always helpful to those who speak. This is partially because expression deepens impression and partly because the speaker immediately achieves a public identification with the cause, from which he is consequently less likely to turn back. Since commitment is strengthened by public involvement, the more involvement the better. Therefore the Christian ideal must always be the complete elimination of the concept of the laity in favor of the exciting concept of the universal ministry.” (Elton Trueblood, The Company of the Committed, pages 39 & 40)

The Apostle Peter also dealt with the maturing process of growth when he wrote:

2 Peter 1:4-11
(4)  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. [This is salvation]
(5)  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
(6)  And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
(7)  And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. [This is going on to perfection through sanctification]
(8)  For if these things be in you, and abound, THEY MAKE YOU that YE SHALL NEITHER BE BARREN NOR UNFRUITFUL in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Maturity of a believer and the fruit of his commitment]
(9)  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. [Immaturity of a believer and his dissatisfaction]
(10)  Wherefore the rather, brethren, GIVE DILIGENCE TO MAKE YOUR CALLING and election sure: FOR IF YE DO THESE THINGS, YE SHALL NEVER FALL: [Remember Trueblood’s statement, “The speaker immediately achieves a public identification with the cause, from which he is consequently less likely to turn back.” Here we find the biblical cure for complacency and backsliding!]
(11)  For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [This maturity and its preparing a believer for involvement deepen ones relationship with Jesus and consequently brings him true victory! On this verse John Gill’s Commentary says: “There seems to be here an allusion to the triumphs granted by the Romans to their generals who had distinguished themselves by putting an end to a war, or doing some signal military service to the state. ‘Ye shall have a triumph, in consequence of having conquered your foes, and led captivity captive.’” Such victory is true revival for the Church!]

This maturity and immaturity is found in the Apostle Paul’s writings on the fruit of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:18-24
(18)  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
(19)  Now the works of the flesh [Immaturity] are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
(20)  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
(21)  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
(22)  But THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT [Maturity] is LOVE, JOY, PEACE, LONGSUFFERING, GENTLENESS, GOODNESS, FAITH,
(23)  MEEKNESS, TEMPERANCE: against such there is no law.
(24)  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Please notice that none of these fruits are introverted but are instead all extroverted. This means that though these fruits are first experienced within a believer, their purpose is to be used to positively influence someone else. This is the nature of fruit; not to bless the plant on which it grows, but to bless someone else who comes in contact with it. This is the same for ministry, and Paul is writing this to all saints, saying that this is the fruit that each of them are to bare.

Also, both Peter and Paul equate the maturity process of a saint with their salvation. That is because the Apostles taught there is more to salvation than just receiving a ticket to someday escape this life. This again can be linked back to the “TEACH ALL THINGS…” part of the Great Commission. Such maturity allows a believer to live saved right now, and to thereby experience a relationship with Jesus Christ! This was why Paul yearned for the following:

Philippians 3:10-15
(10)  THAT I MAY KNOW HIM, and the POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION, and the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGSbeing made conformable unto his death;
(11)  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
(12)  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
(13)  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
(14)  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
(15)  LET US THEREFORE, AS MANY AS BE PERFECT, BE THUS MINDED: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Paul’s longing wasn’t for salvation to enter eternity, since he already received that when he was born again of the water and Spirit in Jesus Name; what Paul longed for was salvation from those things that kept him from maturing further into the image of One he so deeply loved—Jesus Christ! This goal is a lifelong process, which Paul said he was pressing toward even during his Apostleship.

Part 3 of 5 | Part 5 of 5

 

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