The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PII

How would a glimpse of your future help you lead better? What if it is a hope to come into your life? How would that change your attitudes and plans? (Keep in mind that Christ is our hope!) 

Revelation reminds us of the privilege and necessity of reading and hearing His Word, to know and receive the authority, Christ Himself.

I bet the word, Revelation, may be scary to you and still not convinced it has to do with church leadership? Look at the Greek title word, “apokalypsis.” This means “disclosure of events,” as opposed to being something secret or hidden. Even though Revelation is symbolic in places, it is not hidden to us when we take an honest look and compare it to other Scriptures rather than trends or newspapers. Because it is uncovering, an unveiling or, as we have it in the English, a Revelation of God’s Word and call with hope and encouragement. So, “The Apocalypse,” is not about the end of the world; rather, a disclosure of God’s exhortations. Giving us hope in the midst of the reality of life and suffering for being and doing church. As, being in Christ is eternal security (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21; Rev. 12:11).

Soon/swift/shortly means quickness and speed. The events that will happen suddenly and unexpectedly (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18) refer to God’s divine providence and the final phase.

At this time the Church was undergoing the beginnings of more severe persecution than what they initially went through in James’ and Peter’s time when the Roman Emperor Nero was blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome (which he had caused), making them the scapegoat (54-68 AD). And/or (depending on date; see background article at http://www.churchleadership.org/pages.asp?pageid=67280) at this time, the Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD) had stepped up the persecutions. They were harsh, perhaps the worst ever endured in church history (Rev. 1:9; 2:9-13; 13:7-10).

What is this about? It may be tough out there, but the time of waiting is over, for Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us in His coming back, but here in His call and empowerment. So, we can understand God’s perspective, not our desires. (2 Pet. 3:3).

The backdrop, then and in many places now, Christians who were being harassed, betrayed and prosecuted in courts by false witnesses and fake evidences, nothing is fake in Christ. He is our hope and light. We will have  spiritual warfare. our battle with Satan is real and will engage us in conflict and strife with one another until the end of the age (Isa. 43:8-12; 44:8-9; Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).

And what does this all mean for us in leadership? Jesus is the principle and prime Witness we look to so we can have the strength of faith and perseverance.   

The Church is and is to be Blessed. Those who are faithful in Christ will receive the good will of God as blessings from Christ; those who reject Him will be judged. Being blessed also refers to the emotional states of satisfaction, well-being, and contentment that results from being approved by God and by the fulfilling of our duty. It is enjoying God’s special favor and His Grace working in us. It is like being told by parents that they are proud of us (Matt. 5:1-12; Rev. 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7-14).

Again, the point is to strengthen our spiritual formation, not to seek melodramatic theories or sensationalistic ideas.

God ushers in the last days, the last period of redemptive history, and revealing to us His previously hidden agenda and plans. The concern is not just for future events, but also how we conduct ourselves in them in and with His Church. Whatever unfolds is irrelevant if we do not have the strength of faith to endure and learn from it (Heb. 1:1-2; Rev. 22:10).

 

Advertisements

How goes “The Great Commission” in your church?

The Matthew 28 passage presents us with “The Great Commission,” as these are the marching orders for our faith and practice! This is also the hallmark passage for evangelism and missions! This is the climax of redemption and the critical call of the Church. This passage contains the ultimate wonder of the universe-the incredible impossible, and the incredible triumph. Jesus was crucified; He died, and was buried.

 

The-great-commission

 

What does make disciples mean to your church? What has your church done with Christ’s most important call? Why do so few churches and Christians do this?

 

The history of man, his fallen state, the move of our Lord though history and our lives has interwoven to the finishing point. He lived on our behalf. He has died in our place to absorb God’s wrath and pay our debt of sin; now, He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)! 

Let’s look at what this all means: 

“Make disciples” literally means someone who pledges to be a “learner.” Moreover, it is someone who follows another’s teaching, and adheres to it. It is a commitment and a process. It involves commitment, and time to undertake the learning, and, as a Christian, a yearning to imitate Jesus!  

This refers to what rabbis did, that is, take people under their wing and teach them the Scriptures and procedures of the Temple and life. Thus, they could then become rabbis, and so forth. There were few formal schools then; and, even after going to a formal school as Paul did, becoming a disciple was still paramount, as it is yet today! The Jews baptized, but not in the name of people, but rather, for repentance. Jesus is God and He saves; we respond by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Eph. 1:3‑14; 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18‑2:16; 15:1‑8).  

The difference is that rabbis made disciples like themselves, with their traditions and beliefs. We are called to make disciples like Christ, and teach His precepts and ways!  

“Baptize” meant conversion and identification; the person was to become identified as a person of faith and as a follower of Christ. It does not presuppose a ritual, but rather a mindset. The physical act of baptism is essential (not for salvation), as it is a public showing of our faith and commitment. The specifics of how and when are not as important as the faith and obedience to follow Christ (Matt. 4:18-19).  

“Teaching” means to show what is in the Scriptures, how to understand God’s Word, what is God saying to us, and how to live by God’s Word. Personal instruction helps us understand and then apply His precepts into our lives. We are to live for Him and to serve Him. For the rabbi, this meant the Law, Commandments, and the Prophets. Now, it also means the teachings of our Lord.

“Observe.” We are called to learn what to believe and to obey. We do this by observing; it is cemented in us by doing! This passage is called “practical holiness.” Jesus calls us to observe (to learn and grow) and then to do it!  

“Always be with you.” The great comfort we have is that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! This also refers to Jesus being fully God. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God is with us (Matt. 1:23).”  

To make this all work, the remaining disciples had to surrender their will to His in order to know who He was and what He was doing in them (John 3:30). 

We cannot make disciples of others until first we, ourselves, become disciples of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:13)! 

The disciples bore witness to His call to make disciples of all nations; they were His witnesses and His messengers. What will you do about this today (Acts. 1: 22; 4:2, 10, 33; 2 Cor. 5:20)?

 The key to implement this is to realize who Jesus is-and His authority! When we have acknowledged His authority, then we can allow His work in us. Then, He can use us in the lives of others. The opportunities and potentials are limitless (Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7; Acts 20:24)! 

What can you do to help your church see the veracity of The Great Commission and do a better job of knowing Christ so they can then make Him known? What would your church look like doing this? What would your neighborhood look like?

 

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=42799&columnid=4540

The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PII

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Peace is the positive hope of Christ clearly taught and given to others in loving and caring ways.

The church is to be the beacon of light first before she can take a stand.

A “stand” born out of chaos and division is a foolish endeavor, because the credibility will not be there nor will the true purpose of the church be communicated correctly. The church is the result of reuniting; thus, our teaching and determination proclaim the reconciliation we received to those who have not received it, and in turn remind us of our gift. In Christ we are united; do we set that example and show it both publicly and to one another? Just as the Jew was united with the Gentile, we are to come together with one another for our Lord’s purpose and to excel in His call.

We are to learn and to grow in our relationships and knowledge of our Lord. The wisdom of God is to be made known.

We cannot do that if we are so busy fighting with one another. We must realize that God will not allow His message to be thwarted by our pettiness. We cannot be hostile to our Lord as the Demons or the unsaved are. We must be set apart to be a peculiar people and a mirror to His majesty. The love of our God is to be known and expressed by His followers and made known to others.

Our weakness and feebleness will not get in the way of our Lord’s final purpose and will. So, we need to take comfort in His purpose and holiness, confident that He will guide and lead; we need only respond. Yes, we will make mistakes (and God knows I have made a boat full over the years), but our comfort is that it all does work to His glory. The point I need to make is this: we can do better, and His plan is better than ours. Character is the outgrowth of our struggles and obedience that will be used to further His Kingdom. We do this as a united body, rich in our Lord and committed to His cause. We model this with integrity, honesty, and care, with love as our drive, pointing to hope in His name. Our weakness becomes our strength because of His work in us.

Christ is our head, and when we do not get this essential fact, we will spill our “disease of disgust” instead of blessings from His presence.

We are to give God the glory in all we do so our triumphs will be His and our failures will also be His; our Lord reboots us and gives us the perseverance to go on with greater character and ability to press toward His goal. When we stop seeking the honor for ourselves, then we can see His glory and the responsibility of the church. Our Lord created the universe and governs it. Thus, He governs us too. Our acceptance of Him and practice of His will puts into place the healthy church, which has been given to us to be its managers and responsible caregivers.

The Call for the Church from EPHESIANS PI

Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 1:21-23; 3:10; 4:15; 5:23

Our responsibility is to passionately engage in our devotions and surrendered will before our Holy God. If we are not poured out with ardor and devotion as a response for who He is and what He did, then how can we communicate the purpose of the church to others? If there is no distinction between the Christ-centered church and a fraternal organization or social club, then what are we doing, who are we modeling, and what are we accomplishing?

If we are not excelling for Christ, then we are not “getting” what the responsibility of the church is.

We must know the calling and answer accordingly, or we are nothing but Christian trash. By responding, we are actually seeking our Lord’s hope and riches, which He freely gives to those who pursue Him. This is God’s mighty power at work in the church, so let us not block His flow with our evil desires and attitudes. We are to put our yearnings, aspirations, plans, and vision all under His feet—under His command and control. His dominion means that Christ is our power and lead. The fullness is the gift we receive by our service and obedience for His glory. His fullness will exceed all our plans and aspirations a hundred fold. Our hearts must burn with passion for the worship of our Lord.

We must fall down and worship at our Lord’s feet in order to be a real, purpose-filled church—that is, His purpose!

The church must exist from and through Christ in our will, because it does in reality. The church fulfills the hope from the brokenness that sin caused and that the New Testament pointed to. Hope is a call that Christ gives us that we, as peacemakers can in turn give to others. The church is to promote peace and welfare, not stir up strife and division. Yes, there are times we must take a hard stand and we are called to do so even past the point of sacrifice. But, the relationships and teachings of Christ that bring division and conflict will bring peace too.

When to Leave a Church?

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8

We are called to obey your leaders, to have respect for their authority and their call to care for and keep careful watch over the people as shepherds, because leaders will be held to account. We are called to submit to those in authority and to value and respect them, enjoy orderliness, and learn from them. In contrast, a person with a lack of faith will not respect others because the emptiness where faith is supposed to be is filled with pride and even self-destruction, worry, and stress that lead a person nowhere good. This does not mean we submit to dictatorial or dysfunctional leadership (Isa. 21:8; Jer, 23:4; Ezek. 3:17; 33:6; 35:7; Hab. 2:1; Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:2-4; 3 John 9-10).

However, sometimes leaders and pastors are not following Christ, rather following their pride or misguided intentions and thus it may be time to go to another sheepfold. So, when do I leave? When it is dead and there is no life left and there is nothing you can do, you need to look seriously at the situation. Being a member of a church is like being partners in a marriage; when you leave, it is like experiencing a divorce and thus is to be taken sincerely and soberly, and with prayer. Seek what you can do to improve things and always make sure you are not the one causing the problems of division or discord, unless you are fighting for biblical truth. Even if that is the case, do so in love. Obviously, leaving a church is not a sin unless you are in disobedience. There are times when you need to take a stand, and if it fails, it may be necessary to move on to a healthier church. God gives us a green light to move on when:

· Heresy and false teaching are being proclaimed or a platform for that to take place is present and the leaders refuse to repent, or if there is just no teaching and you are not being fed (Romans 16:17; Galatians 1:7-9).

· The pastor and leaders do not reverence Christ or His Word (1 Corinthians 5:1-7; Colossians 1:15-17).

· The pastors or leaders are living in sin and refuse to repent (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

· The pastor or leaders are over-controlling and operate in the weakness of the flesh rather than in the power of the Fruit of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:33; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9).

· The diseases before mentioned, such as gossip and hypocrisy, are rampant and you are being hurt to the point you cannot function or worship, and there is no discipline for those who sin (2 Timothy 3:5).

· If you are the person who is sowing discord or division, you must leave right away. Run-do not walk-to the nearest exit and do not join another church until you repent and get some healing (Galatians 5:1-23)!

Besides that, it is hard to say; you need to think, seek wise counsel, and be in prayer. You should never leave a church for petty or superficial reasons. Examples might be that you do not like the speaking voice of the pastor, but he is teaching well, or you do not like the color of the carpet or the style of the music or how the kitchen is run, or that someone you do not like is elected or appointed to a leadership position. You need to stick to your commitment and responsibility. You need to be in prayer and ask our Lord how He can use you there. Are you growing? Is there a place where you are needed to serve? Is there anything you are doing wrong for which you need to repent? What about your attitude and motivations?

If you do leave a church, do not leave quietly or covertly. Meet with the pastor or leaders, dialog and give them clear reasons, remembering to be biblical and in the Fruit of the Spirit and in prayer. They have the need and right to know, so improvements and conviction by the Spirit can take place. Or, maybe you are in the wrong. So, make sure you listen. Then if you leave, you need to forgive and move on. Never, ever stay to spread bitterness and division (Prov. 6:19; John 13:34-35; 17:21-23; Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:7-9; 1 Cor. 1:10; 5:1-11; 15:33; Eph. 4:11-14, 31-32; Col. 1:15-17; 3:13; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:7-9; Heb. 13:7, 17)!

Let us gain our composure and confidence regardless of how many true believers are in the church, and live as His disciples for His glory!

© 2009, R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/

Looking for a good church?

Is your church perhaps a little weak? If you are not involved in a good church or you need to reform the one you are in, these are the basics that Christ has set forth. Here’s what to look for:

  • Worship: Songs and hymns in praise to God that are reverent with adoration! Knowing who God is: we are the performers and He is the audience as we give Him praise!
  • Prayer: Intimate words and thoughts expressed to God with care toward one another.
  • Preaching: Inspired and biblical, challenging us to live for God, lifting Christ up, and showing us implications we need to apply!

· Teaching and Discipleship: Solid biblical instruction from the Word of God to spur us on to growth!

  • Sharing: Joyful support for the work of God through missions, outreach, and the living of a life without compromise!
  • Fellowship: Encouragement from the family of God!
  • Discipline: Not allowing someone to distract or harm others through personal agendas and sin!

We need to go to a local church for the express reason that it is spiritually beneficial; and when we have benefited, so will others. Because of what Christ has done to give us saving grace and regeneration that we did not deserve, so we must respond with gratitude. The Reformation themes of “guilt,” “grace,” and “gratitude” show the progress of our walk. The process starts with our fall and our sinful nature, which is our “guilt.” Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, saves us for His glory and purpose, which is “grace.” Then, we respond by modeling the love and care of our Lord, which is “gratitude.”

We need to see our responsibility to care for His church properly and faithfully. His message will be pronounced and proclaimed through us with power, conviction, and in clarity and truth. People will be challenged and revival will break out. We have the privilege to know and proclaim what was once a secret, things that the Patriarchs and Prophets could only dream of. Now we can boldly tell others-in lifestyle, in words, and with confidence. It is about His riches and His glory! For the ultimate secret, what is foolishness to those who are not in Him, is that the God of the universe is living in us, employing us, empowering us, and loving us. He is our assurance, so let us share this great joy and never let it be a secret! We are called to share His glory and Truth! Do this with warmth, kindness, and in truth. Give to others what we have been given (John 10:10; Eph. 1:17-18; Col. 1:24-29; Heb. 10:25)!

Why We Should Go to Church

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:17-18

It can be easy to just give it all up and fall back into the world. There is so much conflict and disillusionment there that sometimes I am surprised that more people do not drop out. Statistics from The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development, as well as Barna Research reported recently that perhaps 50% of people who go to a church are not even Christians. I first heard of this statistic when I was in seminary, and even from my “hero,” J. Vernon McGee, whom I would visit as often as possible. He often said he believed a strong percentage of people in the church were not Christians at all! At first, I did not believe it; but, after years of pastoral experience and looking at the research, I now know this to be very possible.

The early church (that is, the period in Christian history right after our Lord’s ascension up until the 4th century when Christianity became legal) went through a period of wide growth and geographic expansion, even in the face of extreme persecution. The Bible describes many instances of spectacular growth, starting at Pentecost. But, most people came to faith through a slow process. Justin Martyr, a man who exhibited extraordinary faith and was persecuted and killed for it (and became the word we use for experiencing persecution-martyr) did not come to the Lord by a sudden, emotional experience, but a long, slow process as most people did at that time. He says he first heard about the faith from an elderly stranger who engaged him in a philosophical conversation, common in that day. But, this elderly man planted a seed that grew over time. In addition, Justin Martyr saw the faith by observing Christians and was stirred by what he saw.

Most of the early Christians went through a several-year process where they were discipled, instructed, and encouraged before they were even baptized or received the Lord’s Supper. This was called “Catechumen,” where we get our word catechism. Today, in most churches, we have a tamer process of confirmation, membership, and so forth. Others may receive Christ at an evangelistic event and just proceed through a short membership class. The difference is that without a process where a person new to the faith can be properly instructed and discipled, he or she may not take a deeper ownership of the faith and become totally transformed by it. By not taking total ownership, one would be unable to know about our Lord and how He can transform our minds as well as our emotions. In the face of persecution and even death, a deeper ownership of the faith enabled those early Christians to thrive and grow and worship Him more.

Our American society has spent 50 years planted in front of the television, including me. I can’t miss “Star Trek” or the History Channel. We have created for ourselves a culture dependent on instant stimulation and gratification. Our temperament has been focused on the quick fix and instant results. A generation ago, the average person could spend his or her whole career at one job. Now we get offended if we do not get a promotion every year, and we change jobs every few years. We become restless; the TV generation has become shallow and “turned off” by church because it is boring to them.

We are a society that focuses on rejection and failure, and that focus paralyzes us from achieving our full potential. It is probably because the TV has replaced our spiritual life, shortened our attention span, and left us with questions and objections that turn to emptiness. A friend in the entertainment industry told me that the average TV program has over 20 different images every minute. So, when you watch a half-hour “sit-com,” your eyes will receive over 600 images. When we read a book, we receive one image. We are addicted to stimulation; most people want more and thus, it is hard for us to settle down.

In our church life, we can have the same expectations in communities with dozens to hundreds of churches from which to choose. So, the average Christian may hop and shop around for months or even years, and never get fully involved or use his or her gifts as one is called to do. Then, the boredom may win out, and he/she gives up. We have lost the sense of adventure and wonder that we used to have. We may see the apostles as “amazed,” “frightened,” “overjoyed,” “tired,” and “saddened,” but we never see the apostles or anyone else in the Bible as bored. God wants us filled with meaning and purpose; “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). We are to go to church so we can participate meaningfully and purposefully with our gifts and abilities.

We need to be drawn to the church for a deeper reason than the promise of good child-care or entertainment or even eternal life-deeper than to find excitement and escape from our boredom.

Events intended to attract people to the church are essential, but we must have discipleship and equipping methods too. We must have a passion that comes from the very core of who we are as human beings-Christian beings who have surrendered to the person, work, truth, and character of Christ. If not, we will be unable to survive the pressures of life and the persecution we may receive. Without this, the early Christians would never have grown or been able to show courage in the face of persecution. This tiny sect of Christianity would have never survived a generation, let alone two thousand years.