Jottings – Trafficking The Truth

Jottings Pencil Red

Commenting on Matthew 23:1-12

It is a terrible thing for those who occupy the place of preachers or teachers of the Word when they simply traffic in truth that has never affected their own lives.

H. A. Ironside, Matthew. (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1948), p. 301.

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Jottings — Self-Importance, Ambition, and the Kingdom of Christ

On Matthew 20:25-28 “Self-importance, the desire to be noticed and respected, the ambition to make one’s mark and to impose one’s will on others, this is the value-scale of the rat-race, not of the kingdom of Christ.”

R T France, Matthew: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1985), p. 296.

 

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Disciple Makers

Are you a disciple maker? Now don’t misunderstand my question. I did not ask, are you an evangelist?  The Lord Jesus in His last requests to His disciples gives a very simple command.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20.

What does it take to make a disciple? Well it takes a team. It takes some to plant the seed, some to water and some to harvest. And that’s just to the point of conversion. Then the real hard work begins. As new babies are nurtured, new believers need much care and nurturing. They need feeding, held and yes quite often their diapers changed.

So let me ask my original question in a slightly different way. Who are you discipling? Every one of us are to be a part of the team when it comes to discipling others. It’s not a job just for the elders or “older” believers. It’s something all of us should be doing all the time. So if you are not currently discipling someone then pray about it. Ask the Lord to show you who you could take on and mentor. Maybe it’s a new christian. Maybe it’s a young mother. Maybe it’s a teenager who needs a little help to make it through the tough high school years.

One of the fears that people have (and why they often don’t disciple) is that being a discipler will hold them accountable. It means they have to be an example. One myth about discipleship is that you have to be perfect. It’s just not true.  As you disciple you are constantly growing yourself. You will need to be vulnerable and open and real. That’s not easy for our natural pride to cope with. We like to always look good as if we have it all together.

My challenge (aimed at me first) is for us to be disciple makers. Let’s take up the torch to lead, train, teach and impact others. The church will be stronger for it. And so will you.

 

 

 

 

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NT Tuesday: Doing the Work of an Evangelist

Golden Waves


Over the last few weeks (here, here, and here), we have considered several New Testament principles: worshipping God in spirit and in truth and the appropriate use of spiritual gifts. Now it is time to turn to another principle found in the New Testament. Before we look more intently at this new principle, I want to remind everyone of what makes a New Testament principle. A principle is “a basic truth, law or assumption.” So, a New Testament principle is “a basic truth, law or assumption that was established or expounded upon in the New Testament for believers seeking to follow the Lord Jesus as His disciples, individually or collectively.”

To introduce this next principle, let’s look at a few verses. The first verse is one of the parting comments of Jesus Christ to His disciples and is found in Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Another verse, with the same thought, is found in Acts 1:7-8

“He (Jesus Christ) said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Both of our verses suggest the idea of spreading the Gospel, the Good News that Jesus Christ died on the cross as payment for our sins and that the Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days later as proof that God is completely satisfied with that payment. Elsewhere we have a few other verses that are more direct in our responsibility to share the Gospel with the lost. In 2 Timothy 4:5, Paul exhorts Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist”. And in Ephesians 4, we read that the Risen Lord gave men as evangelists for the well-being of the church (the same reason all of the other gifts were given).

Several simple and accurate conclusions can be reached by looking at these verses. One is that God has entrusted men and women with the responsibility of delivering the good news that Jesus died for mankind’s sins according to the scripture. I want to emphasize something – the responsibility is given to INDIVIDUALS – not to the church, either local or universal! The assembly is not responsible for spreading the Gospel; the universal church is not responsible for spreading the Gospel. Rather, each and every believer is given the individual mandate and privilege to share the Gospel with the lost.

We will think more on this important topic next week!

Until then, fulfill your ministry and do the work of an evangelist!

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Photo credit: Chris Buggins, used with permission.

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NT Tuesday: Worship in Spirit and Truth [2]

Worship in Spirit and TruthIn last week’s post, we introduced our discussion on Worship as presented in the New Testament. Our thesis, if you will, was as follows: The Father seeks worshippers. As disciples of Jesus Christ, worship is a necessity – both corporately and individually. The Father desires it! Think of that, the Father desires it. But as any Master desiring something, it is to be on His terms. This by default means that it is not on our terms.

We mentioned that the first “term” for worshipping our awesome God is that our worship must be “in spirit.” The use of the term “spirit” here is in contrast to anything that is physical and external.

Let’s state the obvious negative and then approach the obvious positive. Worship of God involves NOTHING that is physical or external by its very nature except. Let’s think of some physical things that have been used in the past for worship by well-meaning disciples of Christ. The list is rather long:

  • Musical instruments. (Yes, I know they were used in the Old Testament, but we are talking about New Testament worship)
  • Incense
  • Candles
  • Idols
  • Creative lighting
  • Audio-visual effects
  • Worship Leaders
  • Worship Centers

The fact that they are used frequently does not make them biblical. In fact, both the Lord Jesus’ teaching and the practices of the Net Testament church, as recorded in the Word, would provide sufficient evidence that these methods and techniques were NOT used by first-generation Christians.

So, what does it mean to worship “in spirit.” The most important component of worshipping “in spirit” is that “God is spirit”. Jesus, Himself, told the Samaritan woman that. So we worship God, as a spirit, and God alone. Not God, plus something or someone, but God alone. In spirit also refers to us – our spirit. We do not worship God “in the flesh” or “with the flesh.” Our human spirit, as enabled by and guided by the Holy Spirit, has now the desire and the ability of praising, loving, honoring, adoring, and submitting to God.

The term “in spirit” is also a reminder to us that worship is not external, but rather internal. One cannot judge whether another person is worshipping God or not. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 15:8 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” In other words, they sounded like they were worshipping Jesus, they looked like it, but they weren’t really. They were “worshipping” on the outside, but not on the inside. That is the problem with the flesh – the flesh responds to external stimuli, the spirit responds to God and to God alone!

One last thought before we move on to the “in truth” component of worship. Worship in spirit also means that our worship is not based on tradition. Oh, how we can fall short and rely solely on tradition. You can appear to be worshipping (and not really doing so) sitting in a breaking of bread service just as easily as you can appear to be worshipping (and not really doing so) while at a “modern, contemporary” service. Our tradition does not sanctify our worship!

Next week we will look at the “in truth” component. Until then, fulfill your ministry!

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Jump to the next post in this series.

Jump back to the first post in the Worship in Spirit and Truth series.

Photo credit: Chris Buggins, used with permission.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [25]

Graveyard

“…Lest you die.” Genesis 3:3

“There’s nothing certain except death and taxes” says the familiar adage, but why is that so? People of every race, nationality, socioeconomic and educational level die. One out of every one dies in our world today; these are easy statistics for the mathematically challenged (like this author.) How does one account for the ubiquity of death in our world? Genesis 3 gives the answer.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [24]

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die”.’” Genesis 3:2-3

God’s Word is a disclosure of His mind and a revelation of His character and will; therefore, it must be handled carefully. To be slipshod in one’s reading or interpretation of the Scriptures is to invite spiritual error and the disaster that inevitably ensues.

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Jottings – Going to Church Without Going to Christ

Jottings

On Matthew 10:14-15: “This is a doctrine fearfully overlooked, and one that deserves serious consideration. Men are sadly apt to forget, that it does not require great open sins to be sinned, in order to ruin a soul for ever. They have only to go on hearing without believing, listening without repenting, going to Church without going to Christ, and by and bye they will find themselves in hell! We shall all be judged according to our light. We shall have to give account of our use of religious privileges. To hear of the ‘great salvation,’ and yet neglect it, is one of the worst sins man can commit. (John 16:9.)”

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1860), p. 96-97.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [21]

question-authority

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

The dictum “Question authority” has reigned supreme in the western world for almost half a century. It was repeated so loudly and often in the late 60’s and 70’s that it became axiomatic; today, its truth is assumed, rather than proven. But is this really the best approach? The serpent certainly thought so, but his question led to spiritual disaster.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [20]

Indian cobra snake

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

In choosing a surrogate to approach Eve with an insidious temptation, Satan chose a serpent – an animal that was known for its intelligence. The New King James Version’s rendering “cunning” is somewhat misleading, implying something negative. No doubt the translators chose this word because in this chapter the serpent’s cleverness is being misused for evil purposes.

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