Preach! It’s a Matter of Eternal Life and Death

Personal Evangelism – A Matter Of Eternal Life… & Death!

A few years ago, brother Phil Sanders of In Search of the Lord’s Way (http://www.searchtv.org), wrote the following in their monthly newsletter: “The churches of Christ have declined in recent years. We are losing more than 8,000 members and about 50 churches every year… As you can see, we have much to do to take the gospel to the lost. The world has always been worldly and deceived by false religion. We must do all we can to preach the truth in love, so that by all means we might save some.” Such congregational graying, shrinkage, losses and spiritual fatalities certainly come as no surprise to most of us.

Preach!  Proclaim!  The Old Paths aren't being shared and it shows.

Preach! Proclaim! The Old Paths aren’t being shared and it shows.

The Waldron Newsletter (Vol. 49; #8) for Aug. 2015 also confirmed: “According to the 2015 edition of Churches of Christ In The United States, there were 13,155 congregations in 2003, w/1,656,495 adherents.” It then went on to report how, over the next dozen years, the Lord’s church experienced a 6.5% overall loss in the number of congregations, and an 8.3% overall drop in the number of adherents (or 136,800 precious and priceless souls lost) over that same twelve year time period.

But perhaps the most stunning point of that entire article was the revelation that, “Thirty five years ago, we and the Mormons were about the same size…” But while we stood at approximately 1.5 million members (when that article was written in 2015), Waldron reported that “they are four times as large as we” – with a whopping, reported, 6.2 million members at that same time! How does that even happen?!? Especially when so many of their doctrines are so far askew from anything even vaguely resembling biblical truth as to be absolutely ridiculous in the first place?!? The answer (according to Waldron), was that they grew like that “…because of leg work, the riding of bicycles and the pounding of pavements.” In other words, because of each individual member, doing their own individual part, in personally spreading their message. So why don’t we, who speak “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and who claim to proclaim the ‘book, chapter, and verse’ gospel truth as our only message (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Jude 3), make an even more diligent, devoted, personal and individual effort to share that daily?

Perhaps It Is Because We Choose To Fool Ourselves When It Comes To The How And Who Of Personal Evangelism: Contrary to popular opinion, simply inviting someone to church (presumably so that the paid ‘professional’ preacher can then take over and do all the necessary teaching) is not really engaging in personal evangelism by any biblical stretch or definition. The fact is that you can search from one end of the New Testament to the other, and you will never once, ever find, where any Christian ever invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they might possibly be converted – ever. Just like the so-called ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation,’ it simply isn’t there anywhere in the Scriptures. (And so the question is, if we don’t believe in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation’ simply because it is never found in the Scriptures anywhere, then how can we possibly insist on such a pattern for evangelism as inviting lost people to church to be converted when that isn’t ever even found once therein either?)

But the first-century church, despite no member ever being recorded as having invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they could be taught and converted, and despite epic life and death persecution on a scale which we cannot even scarcely begin to imagine, still grew like wildfire! How on earth did they do it? What is the divinely-inspired blueprint and biblical pattern for achieving such? Well here it is:

1. When we read Acts 3:1-4:4, we see that Peter did not invite the intrigued masses to church the following Sunday to hear the word of God, but took full advantage of, and seized the moment to teach them the truth of the gospel right then and there on the spot… and church growth exploded!

2. When we read Acts 5:42-6:2, we see that lost sinners were not being invited to church to be converted, but were receiving life and soul saving instruction from the word of God right there on the spot, daily… and church growth exploded!

3. When we read Acts 7:58-8:12 and 11:19-26, we note that it was not the ‘professional’ preachers (the apostles) who were scattered by the persecution and yet still preached the word everywhere they went, but everyday Christians like you and I… and church growth exploded!

4. And whether we talk about Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40); Peter in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48); or the Apostle Paul with Lydia (Acts 16:10-15), the jailor (Acts 16:25-34), or Crispus the synagogue ruler (Acts 18:4-11), we see the same, exact, distinct pattern of evangelism and conversions: No one was ever invited to church the next Sunday to hear the word, but were taught by individual members, right then and there on the spot …and the number of conversions and church growth exploded!

The way in which we often choose to fool ourselves when it comes to who is actually responsible for evangelism, is that seeing as how we put money in the plate to support the evangelist, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are thereby, somehow totally relieved of our personal responsibility to go and make disciples, as it now all falls to him and the rest of the congregational leadership. WRONG! All Christians – including the elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, newly-converted and pew-warmers alike – all legitimately share the same exact amount of responsibility when it comes to personal evangelism. And while it is true that those in leadership do have one added responsibility when it comes to evangelism, alleviating and taking over each of the other member’s individual responsibility for personally evangelizing is certainly not it! What it is instead, is to make sure they, as the God-given leadership in each congregation, equip each individual saint therein, so that they can then best and most efficiently do their part in contributing to the growth of the congregation (See & study: Ephesians 4:11-16)! Part of the purpose for congregational bible study and the worship assembly of the church is to continually help to equip, empower, energize and encourage the saints to go out and seek and save the lost – not to be the time and place where the lost are invited to come in order to be converted!

This is the eternally-settled, divinely-inspired, biblical pattern, for effective everyday evangelism. Individual, on the spot, personal evangelism is as much a part of the divine pattern for church growth, as individual, on the spot baptism is a vital part of the divine pattern for salvation. The bottom line is simply this: If we want the church to grow now, anywhere near like it grew back then, then we must do what they did then. We Must Stop Simply Inviting People To Church; And Instead, Start Instantly & Individually, Involving Them In An In-Depth Investigation Of The Scriptures With Us Personally, On The Spot, At Every Opportunity! This is how they managed to accomplish such magnificent, astounding, and outstanding evangelistic results in the first century. Each and every member of the church talking about Jesus and teaching the gospel to anyone and everyone they could get to listen to their message! And doing so with a divine sense of love and urgency – in the streets, in the marketplaces, in the prisons, in private homes, from house to house, and on the banks of the rivers, etc. – constantly, consistently, continually, and individually! And it wasn’t just the apostles or ‘professionals.’ It was every saved and grateful member with a mouth and a heart after God who wanted to go to heaven and take others with them! Let’s all join them each and every one and turn this thing around in our generation! Personal Evangelism Is Indeed: A Matter Of Eternal Life & Death!

If you or the individual Christians in the congregation you serve need to perhaps become better equipped to conduct effective everyday evangelism, please consider the book, Effective Everyday Evangelism. See reviews, page samples, and ordering information by clicking on:

http://churchofchristarticles.com/blog/administrator/effective-everyday-evangelism-2

www.amazon.com/author/douglasdingley

www.jameskaypublishing.com

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Talking About Adultery

Your Cheating Heart

Adultery does not start in the bedroom. Oftentimes it starts with a lively conversation or maybe a Facebook exchange. Conversations blossom into flirting. Flirting then takes on a whole new dynamic as personal feelings are shared. Rather than sitting down with a spouse and sharing problems and concerns, individuals spill their guts to a stranger who is quick to console and provide emotional—and eventually physical—support.

Adultery doesn't just happen.

Adultery doesn’t just happen.

I dare say there is not a congregation in the church that has not felt the devastating effects of adultery. Our hearts sink when we hear about yet another couple torn apart by the tentacles of infidelity. Occasionally, the sin is committed with someone outside the church family. Many times, however, a married individual turns to someone within the church family. Multiple families are destroyed as selfish individuals seek their own pleasure and treat their marriages like a doormat. Adultery has affected young and old, rich and poor. We can all identify friends, preachers, deacons, and elders who have turned their lives upside down in search of greener grass. Few consider the lasting damage to their children, their families, the church, and their relationship with God in search of a few moments of physical pleasure. It’s the heat of the moment.

Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about adultery.

I’m going to make an admission that will likely get me into a great deal of trouble: Your mother has more wrinkles and gray hair than the day I asked her to marry me. (I do too for that matter!) But I can honestly say that when I look at your mother today she is more beautiful than the day we married. Many times I will look at her without her knowing and smile from ear to ear at how lucky I am to be married to such a beautiful woman. Your mother has a beauty that radiates from her very soul. I found a Proverbs 31 woman and I rejoice with the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18). I pray that one day you will be able to experience a similar feeling.

Marriage is for life. It is the second biggest decision you will make in your lifetime. The vows you make before God, your family, and friends are not to be taken lightly. The way in which you view the opposite sex must change on that day, as you are no longer “looking” for someone. Your search is over—forever! (Matthew 5:27-30).

Your marriage should focus on getting one another to heaven. If you get married and focus on what you “don’t” have, I assure you that your marriage will suffer. Allow me to be blunt for a moment: There will always be someone out there with more physical beauty, talents, or wealth than your spouse. (You are not excluded from this either!) However, always remember that just because the grass may appear greener does not mean it tastes good or doesn’t come with some serious maintenance. It is easy to focus a great deal of importance on physical things when you are young, but physical things will eventually fade away. I want to encourage you to focus on the beautiful grass you have been blessed with and count your blessings every single day.

One wonders how much Solomon knew of his dad’s relationship with Bathsheba. Consider the warning he gave against adultery in Proverbs 5. After describing the immoral woman’s lips as dripping honey and her mouth smoother than oil (vs. 3), he goes on to say, “Remove your way from her. And do not go near the door of her house” (vs. 8). Don’t even place that temptation before you. When one combs through God’s Word and researches the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the action of infidelity keeps bubbling up as a lynchpin (Matthew 19; 1 Corinthians 7) that—like death—can severe a marriage. It is a sin that was singled out in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). Guard against it with diligence!

Your mom and I occasionally talk about the reality of adultery. We are smart enough to recognize that the devil is “seeking whom he can devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and that includes the two of us! I am careful not to be alone with any woman other than your mother. I will often talk about my wife and children in front of individuals so they know I am a family man. We know if either of us let our guard down then devastating things could happen. As such, we try to be proactive to ensure that we are never in that position. From basic things like sharing computer passwords to more advanced things like phoning and letting one another know where we are, we are committed to one another (and God!).

I pray that you will “drink water from your own cistern” and work hard to make your mate happy (Proverbs 5:15-20). Read Song of Solomon with your spouse and fulfill one another’s physical needs. Enjoy the intimacy of your marriage and flee temptation. Lastly, my child, never forget the things I have taught you…Proverbs 3:1-6.

Love,

Dad

Having looked into the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to their spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my own children and those whom I love.
Adultery does not start in the bedroom. Oftentimes it starts with a lively conversation or maybe a Facebook exchange. Conversations blossom into flirting. Flirting then takes on a whole new dynamic as personal feelings are shared. Rather than sitting down with a spouse and sharing problems and concerns, individuals spill their guts to a stranger who is quick to console and provide emotional—and eventually physical—support.
I dare say there is not a congregation in the church that has not felt the devastating effects of adultery. Our hearts sink when we hear about yet another couple torn apart by the tentacles of infidelity. Occasionally, the sin is committed with someone outside the church family. Many times, however, a married individual turns to someone within the church family. Multiple families are destroyed as selfish individuals seek their own pleasure and treat their marriages like a doormat. Adultery has affected young and old, rich and poor. We can all identify friends, preachers, deacons, and elders who have turned their lives upside down in search of greener grass. Few consider the lasting damage to their children, their families, the church, and their relationship with God in search of a few moments of physical pleasure. It’s the heat of the moment.
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about adultery.
I’m going to make an admission that will likely get me into a great deal of trouble: Your mother has more wrinkles and gray hair than the day I asked her to marry me. (I do too for that matter!) But I can honestly say that when I look at your mother today she is more beautiful than the day we married. Many times I will look at her without her knowing and smile from ear to ear at how lucky I am to be married to such a beautiful woman. Your mother has a beauty that radiates from her very soul. I found a Proverbs 31 woman and I rejoice with the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18). I pray that one day you will be able to experience a similar feeling.
Marriage is for life. It is the second biggest decision you will make in your lifetime. The vows you make before God, your family, and friends are not to be taken lightly. The way in which you view the opposite sex must change on that day, as you are no longer “looking” for someone. Your search is over—forever! (Matthew 5:27-30).
Your marriage should focus on getting one another to heaven. If you get married and focus on what you “don’t” have, I assure you that your marriage will suffer. Allow me to be blunt for a moment: There will always be someone out there with more physical beauty, talents, or wealth than your spouse. (You are not excluded from this either!) However, always remember that just because the grass may appear greener does not mean it tastes good or doesn’t come with some serious maintenance. It is easy to focus a great deal of importance on physical things when you are young, but physical things will eventually fade away. I want to encourage you to focus on the beautiful grass you have been blessed with and count your blessings every single day.
One wonders how much Solomon knew of his dad’s relationship with Bathsheba. Consider the warning he gave against adultery in Proverbs 5. After describing the immoral woman’s lips as dripping honey and her mouth smoother than oil (vs. 3), he goes on to say, “Remove your way from her. And do not go near the door of her house” (vs. 8). Don’t even place that temptation before you. When one combs through God’s Word and researches the topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the action of infidelity keeps bubbling up as a lynchpin (Matthew 19; 1 Corinthians 7) that—like death—can severe a marriage. It is a sin that was singled out in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:14). Guard against it with diligence!
Your mom and I occasionally talk about the reality of adultery. We are smart enough to recognize that the devil is “seeking whom he can devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and that includes the two of us! I am careful not to be alone with any woman other than your mother. I will often talk about my wife and children in front of individuals so they know I am a family man. We know if either of us let our guard down then devastating things could happen. As such, we try to be proactive to ensure that we are never in that position. From basic things like sharing computer passwords to more advanced things like phoning and letting one another know where we are, we are committed to one another (and God!).
I pray that you will “drink water from your own cistern” and work hard to make your mate happy (Proverbs 5:15-20). Read Song of Solomon with your spouse and fulfill one another’s physical needs. Enjoy the intimacy of your marriage and flee temptation. Lastly, my child, never forget the things I have taught you…Proverbs 3:1-6.
Love,
Dad
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EL SONIDO DE LA MUERTE

EL SONIDO DE LA MUERTE

Al finalizar el año 2017 me encuentro con mi familia en el lugar donde crecí por unos cuantos días. La noticia de que un reconocido criminal del pueblo había caído de un puente y murió ahogado ahora recorría la pequeña ciudad, entristeciendo por supuesto a los familiares del que ahora es el hombre fallecido pero alegrando a unos cuantos que sufrían  robos constantes del difunto. Mientras todos comentan sobre la tragedia hay un cuestionamiento interesante más allá de las causas de muerte: ¿Que sintió este hombre al morir? ¿Cuál habrá sido el sonido de la muerte mientras caía estrepitosamente de aquel puente colgante? ¿Cuales fueron sus últimos pensamientos?. Las estadísticas demuestran que aproximadamente 107 personas mueren  cada minuto es decir unos 153,000 al día ¡Vaya que es una cifra impresionante!, es difícil imaginar que tanta gente muera cada día. Un año se va un año llega pero la realizad de las cosas es que todos nos estamos acercando cada vez más a la culminación de la vida en esta tierra.  Las Santas Escrituras tienen mucho que informarnos con respecto al tema pero la información solamente sin un propósito específico no ayuda de nada, por eso la Biblia por su parte provee ambas cosas. El énfasis en esta ocasión no es respecto a la muerte misma sino más bien a los factores que están provocando la muerte espiritual de personas, familias, y de iglesias consecuentemente. Es nuestra  convicción que la muerte provoca un sonido antes de arribar y que nosotros podemos identificar ese sonido (por decirlo de alguna manera) y actuar al respecto.

Cualquier congregación que tenga una dieta constante de predicación no doctrinal se debilitará finalmente en cuanto a doctrina.

Cualquier congregación que tenga una dieta constante de predicación no doctrinal se debilitará finalmente en cuanto a doctrina.

Es para mi realmente triste observar congregaciones donde los miembros tanto como el evangelista local son arrastrados fácilmente por cualquier doctrina. La Iglesia de Cristo por años ha sido reconocida por su celo pero hay un grupo en específico que con mucha astucia está apartando a las Iglesias de Cristo a seguir sus doctrinas hechas por hombres. Los hermanos “anticonstitucionales”  son especiales en filtrarse en congregaciones. Me duele expresarlo pero esto puede ser mucho más peligro y más amenazante que las denominaciones. Así es como huele la muerte, con estratagema y con sigilo, el aroma puro de la muerte fluye por entre los miembros cuando el liderazgo ha abandonado el celo por la doctrina y cuando se anteponen intereses económicos. El hermano Alan E. Highers preocupado por la tremenda crisis en el púlpito no pudo haberlo expresado mejor cuando escribe lo siguiente:

Sin duda estamos experimentando una “crisis en el púlpito”. Ese hecho no se cita para restarle méritos al trabajo de cientos de fieles predicadores del evangelio o para desanimar a los que pueden no estar respondiendo a su potencial, sino más bien para informarnos de las condiciones y movimientos que están afectando seriamente a la iglesia y al púlpito. Phil Sanders escribió un artículo que apareció en el ejemplar de Julio del Gospel Advocate acerca de “El Movimiento de la Iglesia Incipiente”. Este es un influyente movimiento que se está extendiendo rápidamente entre los cuerpos denominacionales e incluso influenciando a algunos en la iglesia . El autor menciona algunas características del movimiento que tienen relación con la predicación entre las iglesias de Cristo. Afirmó, “el movimiento emergente pone lo exterior por encima de lo interior (hacer lo bueno por encima de lo que uno cree). Para las incipientes , lo que uno cree no es importante; pero si uno hace lo bueno para con otros es tremendamente importante”. ¿Cuántas veces ha visto este énfasis en el púlpito? Sea amable, sea buen vecino , sea considerado, pero con muy poco énfasis acerca de las creencias correctas, la sana doctrina, o los fundamentos de la fe.

La muerte amenaza nuestros servicios de adoración, nuestras conversaciones, nuestros mensajes de textos, emails, facebook, y sobre todo nuestra doctrina. Es realmente preocupante como la nueva hermenéutica forma parte de las convicciones de muchos sin darse cuenta. Nuestros sermones de los domingos están siendo comprados en formato de libros a los denominacionales y nuestras clases bíblicas están siendo cargadas de sicología y con un énfasis de “hacernos sentir bien”. Los títulos seculares ahora son los estándares para invitar a un orador a disertar. Lo que muchos de nuestros hermanos olvidan es que incluso Dios utilizó a un burro para comunicar su mensaje (Números 22).  El sonido de la muerte ha comenzado a resonar cada vez más fuerte cuando  la falsa doctrina desfila frente a nosotros y guardamos silencio pensando ser sabios para no entrar en discusiones. En Judas 3 el Espíritu Santo nos exhorta a contender ardientemente por la fe que ha sido una sola vez dada a los santos. Es mi convicción que el Silencio es el sonido más fuerte de la muerte en nuestros días. Al parecer  en nuestros días todos quieren ser populares, ser aceptados por la mayoría pero amigo lector el Señor dijo: “Y seréis odiados de todos por causa de mi nombre, pero el que persevere hasta el fin, ese será salvo.” (Mt.10:22 LBLA). En nuestros círculos cristianos de hoy, ésta declaración del Señor ya no tiene el mismo valor o incluso no tiene valor alguno. Cuando hay que sostenerse en lo correcto debemos de hacerlo abiertamente y sin importar el costo porque sino, nuestro silencio será demandado un día. El Señor le dijo al Profeta Ezequiel hace mucho tiempo que profetizará, que hablara aún cuando veía al frente suyo un valle de huesos secos (Ez.37:5-Ss). El Señor continúa diciendo a nosotros que nos pongamos de pie y profeticemos a un valle de huesos secos en gran manera que está justo al frente nuestro, ¿Que hará usted? ¿Guardará silencio?. Una hermana dijo hace poco que hacerlo era sabio, sabe a lo mejor ella está en lo correcto, es probable que sea de sabios guardar silencio frente abusos a la verdad pero ¿para quién? Ciertamente no para Dios, Dios nos ha enviado a proclamar todo el consejo divino tal como Pablo no había rehuido de anunciarlo públicamente y por las casas (He.20:27). En el Gospel Advocate de Agosto de 2009, David Tarbet, predicador de la congregación de White Rock en Dallas, afirma;

“La apostasía viene solo después de una larga ausencia de decidida predicación doctrinal sobre temas que la iglesia necesita escuchar. Cuando a los hermanos no se les recuerda la verdad, olvidan las razones para oponerse al error y pierden sus convicciones. Entonces los agentes del cambio pueden empezar los pasos que inevitablemente llevan a la adopción de los instrumentos de música, los roles de liderazgo de la mujer en el culto, la comunión ecuménica, y la membresía abierta . Han pasado años en muchas congregaciones desde que hubo fuerte enseñanza bíblica y predicación sobre esos temas. Seguramente los predicadores y ancianos serán responsables por lo que no se está enseñando y que debe ser enseñado”. ¿Estamos escuchando? Cualquier congregación que tenga una dieta constante de predicación no doctrinal se debilitará finalmente en cuanto a doctrina. Esto es precisamente lo que ha sucedido en muchos lugares en donde el instrumento está siendo introducido, las mujeres están asumiendo un rol público en la asamblea, y existe una actitud completamente denominacional hacia la iglesia. No es necesario predicar error y falsa doctrina para que estas condiciones se desarrollen. Solo es necesario tener predicación “blanda”, predicación que se ajuste a la iglesia emergente y a los modelos post-modernos, y predicación que no fortalece a los hermanos a “permanecer en la fe” (Hch. 14 :22). Cuando el 95 % de lo que es presentado en el púlpito pudiera ser predicado en la mayoría de las denominaciones de la ciudad, algo anda mal .

 

 

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