Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Church’s Blind Side by Mike Carey

I woke up at 2:30 AM with some unusual thoughts going through my mind.  I have
concluded that it was one of those “teachable moments”.  The thoughts began with questions:
1.     What is the purpose of the church?    Answer:  To prepare the saints for the work of service. (Eph.4)
2.     What is the “work of service”?   Answer:  It has to include ~ bible study, worship, prayer, fellowship and witnessing.
3.     What is missing in the vast majority of churches?   Answer:  Preparing the saints to witness. The result being that the average person doesn’t share their faith, and believes that it is the responsibility of the Pastor and/or staff to lead others to the Lord.
4.     Where does the bible say that it is the responsibility of the saints to share the Gospel?  Answer:  2 Cor. 5 God has given us a ministry of reconciliation ~ ”as though He were making His appeal through us”.
5.     Why don’t Christians share the Gospel?  Answer:  Fear, lack of preparation, and lack of urgency.
6.     Why do we have this fear, lack of preparation, and lack of urgency?  Answer:  The church has failed to teach evangelism and many churches avoid the teaching of prophecy.  The teaching of prophecy creates urgency.
  The above questions then triggered a whole set of new questions:
1.      How can Christians fulfill the law, and should we try?
2.     What is it that fulfills the law?   Answer:  Love  (Mt.22:36-38)
3.     How does “love” relate to sharing the Gospel?    Answer:  Love always wants the highest and best for the other person.  The best we have to offer the other person is the opportunity to be forgiven for their sin, escape the coming judgement, and to live for eternity in heaven with God.  And, we are told to “Comfort others with the comfort with which we have been comforted”. (2 Cor. 1)
4.     How do we have the strength and ability to witness?   Answer:  By the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 1:8) (‘and you shall be my witness’s  -----‘)  Sharing the Gospel is only effective when done under the control of, and submission to the Holy Spirit.  Love itself is a fruit of the Spirit.
5.     What is a witness?   Answer:  The word “witness” also means martyr.  A martyr is a person who sacrifices his life for another person or cause. “No greater love has any man than this that he lays down his life for a friend”. (Jn. 15:13) When we share the Gospel, we are setting aside our fears, feelings of inability, and self, and are being obedient to the ministry that God has given us, to lay down, or set aside our own life for the sake of others, out of love for God and for our neighbor, (fulfilling the law).
6.     How does not sharing my faith affect me negatively?  Answer: You will never have a full understanding of every good thing you have in Christ. (Philemon 1:6)
   Today, the emphasis of most Christians in the church is spiritual growth.  However, we think that spiritual growth comes from bible study.  Consequently, we attend as many bible studies as our time allows.  Unfortunately, bible study by itself is not the source of spiritual growth.  Knowledge puffs up, but wisdom builds up.  There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom.   The best definition of wisdom that I have ever found is this:  Wisdom is, looking at and responding to, true life situations from God’s point of reference. In other words, wisdom is putting into practice what the Word of God says.  (Mt.7:24)  God will not give us more until we put into practice what He has already given us.  When we practice what we are taught, then we grow spiritually, because it is then that we see God work in our life and in the lives of others.
   I personally believe that Joy in life comes from being obedient to God and putting into practice the gifts that have been given to us. .  I don’t think it is by accident that joy follows love in the list of spiritual fruit in Galations 5:22   We are all called to be witnesses and also to be watchmen.  When the church does not teach evangelism and prophecy, and we don’t put into practice what we already know to be true, in a way, we are robbed of joy, and perhaps this is one reason that our love is growing cold in these last days.  We also lack the excitement and urgency of sharing the Gospel.  Oh how the world would change if all Christians were sharing their faith.  Not only that, but it would hasten the “fullness of the gentiles”.  (Ro. 11:25)