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Ephesians 4:11-16 Every Wind Of Doctrine
Why Modern "Evangelism" is Not Evangelism At All
Florida has a Hurricane Season. Back home in Nevada, we had Deer Season, Chucker Season, and Quail Season. But a Hurricane Season? That was a new one on me.
Starting in August and lasting through November, the eastern coast of the USA must deal with Hurricane season. I laughed the first time I heard this term. It conjured up an image of Elmer Fudd hunting a hurricane.
Never the less, we here in Florida must be ready to evacuate pretty quickly. Like that deer hunter who goes looking for it’s pray, searching for signs of deer tracks, peering through his binoculars, and combing the hill sides. We have learned to pay close attention to the early warning signs lest we be caught unaware.
The most severe storms bring about drastic changes in the landscape, carving out destruction as they go. The winds not only topple trees, they also, remove roofs, and in some cases, whole houses vanish, leaving nothing but an empty foundation or a pile of rubble.
One of the more vivid images burned into my memory is watching our huge Pine trees being blown to and fro by the wind. The trees bend hard to one side as the gusts of wind heave against their flexing trunks. Then as the gusts eased, the trees recoil back toward the upright position. This scene will repeat itself over and over again until the storm has passed. As you can imagine, it is frightening to watch because trees here in Florida that have shallow roots do not do well in the wind. They are found toppled over by the brute force of the storm, destroying fences, houses and anything else that stand between the tree and the ground.
Fortunately all our trees have survived. They are a testimony to the importance of deep roots.
A Spiritual Storm
I have been alarmed by a growing storm that has blown through the American Church. Like the hurricanes of the Atlantic, it has changed the spiritual landscape of our country and has blown the church nearly off its foundation.
Super Wall-Mart Churches
Recently, I saw some statistics on mega churches in the US and was shocked by the number of people who go to these churches every Sunday. According to forbes.com*, in 1970 there were only 10 churches nation wide with an attendance of greater then 1500 people. Today there are 1,373.
The following is a few of the larger churches. The information came from the Hartford’s institute for bible research as of 2006*
• Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston TX has on average 43,500 people in regular attendance.
• Second Baptist Church pastored by Edwin Young’s in Houston TX 23659 has on average 23,659 people in regular attendance.
• Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church in Alpharetta GA has on average 22,557 people in regular attendance.
• Willow Creek Community Church pastored by Bill Hybels in South Barrington IL has on average 22,500 people in regular attendance.
• Saddleback Valley Community Church pastored by Rick Warren in Lake Forest CA has 19,414 people in regular attendance
• Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale FL pastored by Bob Coy has 17,000 people in regular attendance.
The question has to be asked, how did Christianity get to be so popular?
When humanity comes in contact with the truth of God's Word, it exposes the self-centered nature of the man. It reveal his wickedness, and his depraved thinking. At the same time, it shows us our need for a redeemer and our utter inability to earn our right standing with God. Humanity worships itself and will not easily tolerate a message that contradicts it own reasoning. It mocks the message of the cross. For it is a message of obedience, devotion and selfless sacrifice. It recognized that God is sovereign over us and it insists that our most important ambition in life is to please God. As you can imagine, this is about as popular with humanity as a ham at a Bar mitzvah.
Christ warned of the following:
John 15:18 -19
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
For sure there are aspects of Christianity that are very appealing. But all must be taken in balance. If we only focus on the love of God, as many churches do, we will only understand one part of his nature. God is also just and has a limit to his patience. He is also sovereign. Meaning, he is in charge and does not need my permission or opinion.
In the last 30 years, I have noticed that our churches have geared themselves for reaching the unbeliever. While the importance of sound and thorough doctrine has been placed as a secondary priority. As a result, pastors are focused on spreading the gospel as apposed to teaching the gospel. The by-product of this mind set is the abundance of new converts that remain as infants, who show no fruit of repentance, causing one to question the sincerity of their conversion.
I am concerned because the message of the cross has been diluted, packaged, and then, mass marketed. The shift in the American church from teaching to evangelism has allowed a whole gamete of false doctrines to creep in unchecked.
Like those trees in my front yard that recoil after every gust of wind. Christians who make it their goal to know God's Word find that they remain standing after the storm has past because they are rooted to a sure foundation.
The Neglect Of Sound Doctrine
Like the Berean's in Acts 17:11 who studied the scripture diligently to see if what Paul and Silas was saying was true. We are to study God’s word diligently to present ourselves approved to God, workers who do not need to be ashamed because they are rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
I would ask those who place a higher emphasis on evangelism and Church growth, then they do the teaching of sound doctrine, to consider what Ephesians 4:12 states the purpose of the church is. It is for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The church is to make its primary ministerial effort those who already believe.
It is my understanding that "The Church" is to make sure that the followers of Christ should no longer be as children, (spiritually speaking) tossed to and fro and carried about (toppled over) with every wind of doctrine. By deceitful men whose cunning craftiness and deceitful plotting seek to destroy our faith by convincing us of false truths. She is to speak the truth (sound doctrine) in love. So that, all that are in Christ Jesus will grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
Paul tells us that an assortment of gifts will be given to edify the Church. The word, edify, means to build up, to strengthen. Paul is pointing out that individuals will be given these gifts and they are to be used to build up the church. Individuals who have the gift of evangelism are to use their gifting primarily for the equipping of the saints. Not the recruiting of sinners.
Evangelism means to "Preach God's Word". It is a declaration of the gospel. While this gift comes in handy when witnessing to unbelievers, I don't believe evangelism, as scripture defines it, is the purpose of the Church. It is the result of its purpose.
The fruit of a changed life that is inspired by sound doctrine, then empowered by the spirit of God, and evidenced by repentance, is a declaration in and of it's self. However, evangelists are able to express all that God has done in their lives as well as show it through the demonstration of their faith. Their walk agrees with their talk because they have an intimate, personal, and tangible relationship with Christ. Because of their time in God's Word, scripture pours out of them, overflowing like water from a water fall.
This gifting can not be imitated or taught. It is the result of the presence of God in their life.
In closing I urge you not to be fooled by cheep imitations of Christianity. Numbers are a sign of popularity not righteousness. Watch out for salesmen who dress up like Christians, who peddle a form of Godliness that has no power over sin. Find yourself a church that knows the life changing power of God and places the teaching of the Bible as its highest responsibility.
For God's Word is a sure foundation, it is able to withstand every trial, every storm and every attack. Root yourself in it, Anchor your self to it. Know it, apply it. Then you will be secure, just like that tree that is planted by the water, You shall not be moved
Your brother in Christ
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