Fear of God Devotional: The Misunderstood Great Commission


What part of the Great Commission is most frequently neglected?

Stephen Hopkins explains in this video that the Great Commission is often misunderstood. We frequently tend to understand it as simply telling people that “Jesus died for your sins” when the Great Commission involves much more than those words.

First, we are to preach the Gospel to every living creature. We are to take the Gospel into the entire world. Second, we are to bring the good news of the saving work of Christ. New converts are to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Third, we are commanded to teach them to observe all things. This third element is notably missing in the church today. The discipling and teaching of new believers that Scripture commands must take place.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV) – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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Fear of God Devotional: Differences Between Evangelism, and the Gift of Evangelist

 

Where should we focus our evangelizing efforts?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that each person is called to disciple the nations. The word “nations” also includes families or communities. Accordingly, everyone is called to evangelism in some form. We are to evangelize to individuals within our homes and those outside the home as well.

Some people are called to preach Scripture out on the streets. Others are called to preach within the Church. There are those who are called to preach on the radio, television, and in public forums. Other people are called to disciple believers on an ongoing basis. No matter where we are, we are called to be faithful to preach the Word of God. To our spouses, to our children, within our congregations, and to the world.

Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV) – “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

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God is Light

It is striking how man cannot stop trying to create more light, always improving light in houses, buildings, stadiums and other outdoor places covered in the darkness of night. Man cannot seem to lose his fascination with light.  We are always creating light that casts farther and is more penetrating and pleasing by degrees. In 1 John 1:5-7, John brings us into the world of light and darkness. He makes it very plain that to walk in darkness is to be deprived of everything beautiful and good. When you walk in darkness, it is a darkness that can be felt. You are separated from the light, and life and love of God. And, you cannot have the fullness of loving fellowship with God and with His people in your journey through this world. But, what does it mean to walk in the light and in darkness? John answers this question.

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Fear of God Devotional: Training for Evangelism

 

How should pastors train those in their congregation to evangelize?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that pastors must train and equip members in their congregations to evangelize and not simply just send them out as soon as they are saved. The best technique to teach evangelism is not necessarily an evangelism class, but the Puritans explained that individuals learn how to evangelize by learning from their pastor’s interactions with unbelievers and how he evangelizes from the pulpit.

Thus, when a lay person goes out and evangelizes, he has the same zeal, the scriptural and doctrinal emphasis, and passion that their pastor shows in the pulpit and in his life. While there is a burden on the pastor to model this, when they do this faithfully and continue to shepherd those he has already trained, it is a very effective means to train others to evangelize.

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NKJV) – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Holiness and Pragmatism

 

What happens when we substitute pragmatism in place of scriptural commands and principles?

Geoff Botkin explains in this video that people in America generally conduct their life in a largely pragmatic manner. But, in order to understand something like holiness, we cannot learn about holiness without first going to Scripture. Our understanding of holiness must be based on the true standards of holiness. This is where we find God’s standard of holiness. That is what we must default to.

But, the American church has drifted so far from Scripture. We may be champions of pragmatism, but our first priority must always be to look to Scripture. We must look at everything around us and ask whether it is lawful, according to Scripture. If there is something that is contrary to the Scripture or it is a tradition of man, we must replace it with what we find in Scripture and then actually practice what Scripture says on the matter.

Colossians 2:8 (NKJV) – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

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The Hottest Thing in the Church Today Is…

The Hottest Thing at Church Today is…

Tim Challies posted a good article about church life today – The Hottest Thing at Church Today. The article is really about pragmatism… and how a new wave of interest in preaching through the Bible could ignite more of the same old saw in pastors – pragmatism.
He begins the article by noting a new study by the Gallup organization,

“According to a new study by Gallup, the hottest thing at church today is not the worship and not the pastor. It’s not the smoke and lights and it’s not the hip and relevant youth programs. It’s not even the organic, fair trade coffee at the cafe. The hottest thing at church today is the preaching. Not only is it the preaching, but a very specific form of it—preaching based on the Bible. And just like that, decades of church growth bunkum is thrown under the bus. As Christianity Today says, “Despite a new wave of contemporary church buzzwords like relational, relevant, and intentional, people who show up on Sundays are looking for the same thing that has long anchored most services: preaching centered on the Bible.” Praise God.”

Then, Tim says,

“Praise God, but please don’t jump on the bandwagon.”
The last thing we need is a bunch of preachers responding to this poll by suddenly ditching their series on “7 Keys to Successful Relationships” or “5 Secrets to a Happy Home” to dabble in biblical exposition. What we need is for preachers to search the Scripture, then to commit to biblical exposition.

Pragmatism Dies Hard
For decades, the Western church has been dominated by the church growth movement, a movement that drew heavily from the business principles of pragmatism. Pragmatism insists that the end justifies the means. It demands that we establish goals, determine the best means to achieve those goals, then assume that success proves that both the goal and the means are good. As one of the fathers of church growth said, “Never criticize what God is blessing.” According to pragmatism, there is no distinction between what works and what is experiencing God’s hand of blessing. One proves the other.

The church growth movement established the goal of having as many people as possible profess faith in Jesus Christ. To do this, it would need to make church attractive to unbelievers. This demanded changing the services to make them seeker-friendly, changing the music to make it more contemporary, and even changing the gospel to make it less offensive. Of course, it also demanded changing the preaching to make it more palatable and that meant preaching themes and principles rather than preaching the Bible itself. Pragmatism is so ingrained in the very fabric of the church today that it is extremely difficult to root out. Churches that have been immersed in it have to battle tooth and nail against its seductions. They need to retrain themselves to look not to what appears to work, but to what the Bible demands.

My concern with the results of this poll is that it will convince many pastors to change course for pragmatic reasons. They will see that the people want biblical exposition and, therefore, they will provide it. But they will do so not on the basis of biblical convictions, but on the basis of pragmatism. Ironically, to switch to expositional preaching on the basis of a poll is the very essence of pragmatism. It is to determine what the people want, then to assume the right thing is to give it to them.

What God’s People Want and Need
It should come as no surprise that God’s people want God’s Word. A baby wants nothing more than his mother’s milk because he needs nothing more than his mother’s milk. A Christian wants nothing more than God’s Word because there is nothing he needs more than God’s Word. The Christian may not know it or be able to verbalize it any more than the baby can, but within every true believer will be a deep hunger to be fed by spiritual food—food that is found only in the Word of God. Those churches that committed to preaching endless series of sermonettes for Christianettes were starving their people. They were starving sheep in order to entertain goats.

Now Gallup assures us that we’ve gotten it wrong, that what Christians want is the straightforward preaching of the Bible. I’m glad to read these results. I’m glad that God’s people are choosing God’s Word. But I don’t want pastors and their churches to jump on the biblical exposition bandwagon. Instead, I want them to search the Scriptures, to see what God says about the relationship of his people to his Word, to understand the purpose of the weekly gatherings of the local church, and then to commit from this day forward to preach God’s Word to God’s people.

Here’s the thing: Eventually Gallup or Barna or someone else will come up with a new poll that will display new results and mere bandwagoners will veer to this new course. Their deep-rooted pragmatism will drive them to the next big thing. But people who are convinced from the Bible that there is nothing better than to preach the Bible will stay the course. Even when Bible-based preaching is the very last thing people want, these pastors will know it is the very first thing they need.

As you know the NCFIC has always been an advocate of this and our desire to “Focus churches and families on the Word of God by restoring the practice of teaching the whole counsel of God through exegetical preaching of Scripture in the church by biblically qualified elders and daily instruction in homes by fathers and mothers.”

You can read Tim Challies article online here:

http://ift.tt/2qihj0G

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Fear of God Devotional: What is Christ’s Great Commission for the Church?

 

What is the message of the Great Commission?

Joel Beeke explains in this video that the message of the Great Commission is to bring the Gospel to everyone in the world and to see every unconverted person as a mission field. We are called to be faithful to bring the Word of God to unbelievers that we interact with.

The Gospel is all about how Christ came to do everything for us who are powerless to do anything. We must communicate to the unsaved that our Savior is willing and able to save the greatest of sinners. They are called to repent and believe the Gospel with all their mind, soul, and strength.

Luke 19:9-10 (NKJV) – “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

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Penance or Repentance

Misunderstanding the difference between penance and repentance will bring disaster in a persons life. It is an eternally significant disaster. The Lord revealed this to Martin Luther as he was translating the Greek New Testament and comparing it to the Latin Vulgate,

Luther had been studying the new edition of the Greek New Testament published by the humanist scholar Erasmus. In these studies he had come to realze that the Latin Vulgate, the official chrurch Bible, had misleadingly rendered “repent” in Matthew 4:17 by poenitentiam agite (“do penance”), thus completely misconstruing Jesus' meaning. Luther saw that the Gospel called not for an act of penace but for a radical change of mind that would lead to a deep transformation of life.1

Penance falls short of repentance in many ways. It tends to focus on the external or outward issue of what the sinner has done rather than what the sinner is. It is frequently aimed toward the ecclesiastical body rather than toward God. It tends to elevate the priest as the absolver of sin more than Christ. It deals with the past more than the fiture. It often diverts attention from the real needs of the soul to some relatively inconsequential acts. Thus you can have “penitent thieves” whose penance consists of paying part of their loot to the church, and “holy men” whose garments are alive with vermin they cultivate to mortify the flesh.2

 

1. Sinclair Furgeson, The Grace of Repentance pp.13-14
2. Richard Owen Roberts, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel pp. 92-93

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Fear of God Devotional: Church Programs for Evangelism?

 

How should the Church approach and witness to unbelievers?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that the Church be balanced in that there must be love shown to both the believers in the Church and unbelievers outside the Church. The Church must reach out to unbelievers but also to the believers. Elders ought exemplify this to the members of the Church. They ought to be opening up their home to strangers and believers alike.

However, it is a delicate balance. A church may lean too far one way where there is no love for believers because it focuses on bringing in unbelievers so much that believers are neglected. The opposite can also occur where there is no love for unbelievers.

John 17:15-18 (NKJV) – “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”

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Fear of God Devotional: A Shortcoming Amongst Youth Groups

 

What is a common shortcoming amongst typical youth groups today?

Paul Washer explains in this video that when he visits a typical youth group, many youth attend only because their friends are there and they are entertained. Unfortunately, oftentimes, the Word of God is not preached and made the focal point of the gathering.

Perhaps one of the most important things that our youth need at that critical stage in life is to be instructed by the Word of God. As they transition into adulthood, they ought to be desiring solid food and not just milk. When we promote an entertainment lifestyle amongst our children and youth, we perpetuate spiritual immaturity when we ought to be encouraging them instead to pursue godliness with all of their might.

Proverbs 13:20 (NKJV) – “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Biblical Evangelism – Effectively Communicating the Gospel

 

How should Christians more effectively evangelize unbelievers?

Kevin Swanson explains in this video that an effective way to evangelize is to preach the Word of God in a public forum and actually interact and converse with people. Many times, people will simply pass out a tract but not take the time to sit down with an individual and open up the Scripture or pray with them.

We see in Scripture a pattern of individuals actually preaching the Gospel to an individual or to a crowd. We see interaction and conversations between believers and unbelievers. We see believers using Scripture to rebut the ideas and arguments of unbelievers. While evangelizing in this manner may take time and effort, it is something we are called to do as Christians and the reward is great, for the harvest truly is plentiful.

Mark 16:15 (NKJV) – “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

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Fear of God Devotional: Can We Ever Stray from the Commands of God?

 

Is there ever a situation where we should stray from the commands of God found in Scripture?

Paul Washer explains in this video that much of the modern church’s energy is invested in youth ministry. Generally speaking, it is a key aspect of modern church life. However, the Bible does not command us to delegate a father’s responsibility to disciple and instruct our children to other individuals. There is no commandment in Scripture telling us to do these things. It isn’t the plan that God has commanded.

It is important to remember that successes in youth ministry, no matter how great, does not matter if it contradicts what Scripture commands. Church staff are not commanded to teach and instruct the youth. There never ought to be a situation where the commands of God are trumped by an allegedly superior method or technique created by man.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV) – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

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A Hatred of Sin and Apprehension of the Mercy of God

Here is the section on repentance in Benjamin Keach’s Baptist Catechism:

Q. 94. What is repentance unto life?

A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience. (Acts 2:37; Joel 2:13; Jer. 31:18,19: 2 Cor. 7:10,11; Rom. 6:18)

Please consider coming to our national conference: Repentance – The Reformation Continues – October 26-28 in Asheville NC.

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Fear of God Devotional: The Root Cause Behind the Exodus of Our Youth



What is the root cause behind the exodus of our children from the modern church?

Scott Brown explains in this video that youth ministry is not the cause of our children leaving the church. Rather, it stems from ignoring the things that are plainly taught in Scripture. The root problem is the failure to trust what Scripture has to say and the resulting disobedience of it. In short, we have stopped believing that Scripture is sufficient.

There are a variety of things that have caused this crisis among our youth. But all of them have the same root cause – a lack of appreciation for the Word of God and an appreciation for modern traditions. The Bible can be trusted to guide the way we lead our youth. Yet, the modern church has set aside Scripture and has done something that is foreign to Scripture and actually contradicts it.

Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

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Fish Will Not Be Fishermen

Modern folks seem to feel that they need to become like the world in order to win the world. They think that If they look and talk and act like worldlings, then they will be able to relate with them. Nothing could be further from the truth. The world needs to see holiness not worldliness, as Charles Spurgeon declares:

“We cannot be fishers of men if we remain among the men in the same element with them. Fish will not be fishers. The sinner will not convert the sinner. The ungodly man will not convert the ungodly man. What is more to the point, the worldly Christian will not convert the world. If you are of the world, no doubt the world will love its own, but you cannot save the world. If you are dark and belong to the kingdom of darkness, you cannot remove the darkness. If you march with the armies of the wicked one, you cannot defeat them. I believe that one reason why the Church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.”1

Luke 5:10 “and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”

1. Spurgeon, C. H. The soul-winner, or, How to lead sinners to the Saviour. Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 2007, pp. 277-278

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