The Mission and Work of the Church — Evangelism

Jesus mission while he was upon the earth was to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Inasmuch as the church belongs to her Lord (Matt. 16:18), she is to be about that same mission as well. Within that mission, there are those who need to be saved and there are those who are saved. Evangelism concerns itself with the former category. There is no doubt that the church needs to be in the business of evangelism. The church is God’s plan for man’s salvation today and as such needs to sound the message of the gospel to those who are not saved. This is epitomized in the great commission. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19, 20 ASV). The twelve had the specific charge to get this done within their lifetimes. The church was the instrument through which this charge was carried out. Today, the church stands as the instrument for world evangelism as well.

Often times when we think of world evangelism we think about supporting evangelists in other parts of the world. While the concept of world evangelism certainly includes this, we should not think of world evangelism as exclusive of our own communities. World evangelism includes THE ENTIRE WORLD. We cannot fulfill the great commission without taking the gospel to our “neck of the woods” as well. We find, in fact, that this is exactly the pattern that Jesus had for the apostles. In Acts 1:8b we read, “

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Why is Doctrine So Important?

The word “doctrine” in the Bible simply means “teaching.” Today we generally use the word “doctrine” to refer to a precise teaching or set of teachings while the word “teaching” itself refers more loosely to overall general concepts. Too, doctrine seems to have a religious connotation while teaching may connote the religious or secular. So while in our modern day language “teaching” and “doctrine” have distinct nuances, there is only one word in the language in which the apostles wrote and both English words “doctrine” and “teaching” are translated from it. So when we speak about the doctrine of the Bible we are speaking about the teaching of the Bible. Why is teaching so important?

Doctrine is important because Jesus thought it was important. Jesus said in John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In this context Jesus is saying that the one who truly seeks after God will come to an understanding that Jesus’ teaching is from God and that it is important to understand this because that is the way to life. Notice also John 8:31, 32 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” The words that Jesus taught are often used to represent within the scriptures the whole of Jesus teaching. The words in which Jesus was instructing others to abide is His teaching–His doctrine.

Doctrine is important because faith is based upon hearing doctrine. Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Our very faith, the things that we believe, are the result of hearing the word of God which is the source of all of our teaching. The teaching, the doctrine, is that in which we place our direct faith and our trust because it is through the words that are taught that we come to know about our relationship with God. No man can come to know God under the New Covenant without having been taught and without having learned. John 6:45 states, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” We come to the Father through the teaching, through the doctrine.

Doctrine is important because we must believe the right doctrine. The Bible teaches that to believe the wrong doctrine will lead one astray. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 we read, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” When we believe a doctrinal lie, it will lead to the condemnation of our soul if we don’t recognize that lie and correct it. Someone once said, “Jesus did not come to this earth to make people religious; He came to make people religiously right!” We must believe the right doctrine if we are going to have hope for salvation.

Doctrine is important because ultimately the decisions that we make and the actions that we perform will be based upon what we believe. When it all boils down to it, we act based upon how we believe. Jesus said, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man?.” Jesus said it is based upon what is in our heart that we act, whether for good or evil. There is not a single action that we do that was not first conceived within the mind. And it is within the mind–the heart–where faith resides. Based upon the things that we believe we make decisions in our life every day. And so it is with confidence that when others act inappropriately, we can confidently say that their beliefs are inappropriate as well. So we preach the doctrine of Christ in an effort to get all who are in sin to repent and to fashion their minds anew around the blessed freedom that results in believing the truth.

What do you believe, dear friend? Do you believe the words of the Bible or do you believe the opinions and traditions of men. Believing a lie will lead you astray. But believing the truth and acting thereon will bring one to eternity. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

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When To Not Bid Godspeed

The passage from which the title of this article originates is found on 2 John 9-11. John writes, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” It is clear from this passage that Christians are not to provide aid and comfort to (nor even greet) those who are not preaching the gospel within the boundaries of the doctrine of Christ. While John was dealing with the specific problem of gnosticism and the denial that Jesus came in the flesh (2 John 7), the principle applies to any who would deliberately pervert the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-9). This means that we need to understand what John is speaking about to not be guilty of supporting false doctrine. Let us examine some of these things that the Bible clearly does not include within John’s prohibition and then focus on what John specifically includes when speaking concerning these individuals.

First, Christians may not withhold fellowship based upon personal disagreements. We find one such personal disagreement mentioned in Acts 15:36-41. Paul and Barnabas had decided to go on another missionary journey. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them, but Paul did not. Each was adamant and the Bible says that there was “sharp contention” between them. However, the result of the disagreement was that Paul chose Silas whereas Barnabas took Mark and each went to the work. This matter was simply a personal disagreement. The Bible never indicates that either man sinned. In fact, the efforts of preaching the gospel doubled. Later, we find that Paul changed his opinion regarding Mark. In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul tells Timothy to bring Mark because he is profitable for the ministry. Both Paul and Barnabas continued to preach the gospel despite their personal disagreement. While they parted ways physically, there is no hint in the New Testament that breech of spiritual fellowship occurred rather Paul continued to see Barnabas as a fellow worker in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 9:6 and Colossians 4:10). Matters of personal disagreement do not fall under the umbrella of 2 John 9-11.

Second, Christians are not to withhold fellowship in matters of personal conscience. Paul addresses this in Romans 14. There were certain brethren in the early church who disagreed regarding eating meat offered to idols. Paul deals with this as well as the issue of observing religious holy days. These issues, Paul says, are not to be treated in such a way so that 1) we bind upon our brethren things that God has not bound 2) we interrupt the fellowship that exists between brethren and 3) we judge our brother unrighteously. Paul writes in verse three of this chapter, “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Matters of personal conscience are just that. They are personal and conscientious. It would be contrary to the teaching of scripture to apply 2 John 9-11 to such matters. In fact, it would be sinful, because we are not to reject one whom God has received.

Third, Christians are not to withhold fellowship from unknowledgeable brethren who are willing to be taught. One example of such a man is Apollos (Acts 18:24-28). The text makes it clear that he learned about the Lord during his earthly ministry, but evidently had to depart before that ministry was complete (possibly to Alexandria where he was from). As a result, he did not know the baptism of Christ as given in the great commission. He only knew the baptism of John. When Aquila and Priscilla heard about this, they might have said, “Apollos, you are a false teacher and we are going to withdraw fellowship from you” and done so. This, however, was not the approach they took. I want to emphasize that they did NOT allow him to continue teaching incorrectly. They did, however take Apollos aside and teach him the way of God more perfectly. Had Apollos rejected their teaching and continued to preach an incorrect baptism, they then would have been justified in applying the principle of 2 John 9-11. However, Apollos did NOT reject the correction. He accepted it and so they went forward in the work. We learn from this that before we apply the principle of 2 John 9-11 to people with whom we have not had prior contact, we should study with the person involved in the hopes that they will learn of their error.

Finally, we see that the category of those to whom we are not to bid “Godspeed” becomes focused. Christians are to withhold fellowship from deliberate false teachers seeking to cause division within the church (Romans 16:17). By giving such individuals aid and comfort one would be allowing them to sow the seed of discord among the brethren in the local church. It was customary for preachers to stay in the homes of brethren as they passed through these ancient cities. For one to deliberately open one’s house to a false teacher would be to allow that false teacher to gain a foothold in the community. The false teacher would then cause trouble for the local church. By observing John’s warning regarding these false teachers, they would not be able to gain a foothold and sow discord. Obviously the person who provided aid and comfort for the false teacher also provided the means of encouragement for that false teacher to continue sowing discord in the community, hence, they become partakers of (or have fellowship with) the evil that the false teacher is perpetuating. In fact, John says that we should not even greet such a person. What if a person does not know whether someone is a false teacher or not? John deals with this problem in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” All Christians have a responsibility to try or test the one who would come to them preaching in the name of God. If their preaching is not according to the doctrine of Christ and they refuse to accept correction, then they should not be supported.

In conclusion, 2 John 9-11 is definitely applicable to us today. However, we must apply these verses appropriately and scripturally. These principles should never be applied in matters of personal disagreement of opinion, matters of personal conscience, or to unknowledgeable teachers who are willing to accept the truth of God’s word when presented in a clear and loving manner. These principles should be applied to false teachers who deliberately cause division within the brotherhood. We should not accept these false teachers into our house, nor even bid them greeting. To do such would be to personally engage in destroying the church.

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