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Series: Kingdom Evangelism
2 November 2014 – Pastor Kobus Swart
(Gen. 1:19-20); (Gen. 6:9-22); (Ex. 35-40); (1 Chron. 28:11-20); (Eph. 1-4); (John 1:14);
Eph. 4:11-14; (Phil. 2:5-7); John 12:24 (Message); John 3:1-6 (Message); John 8:32;
(Matt. 5:13-16); Acts 19:1-7; (John 17:15-18)
We are looking at the role of the Church in the world. We are re-visiting some basics in order to maximise our impact on our surroundings.
This morning I want to look at the pattern Son, Jesus. I believe we have a model in Jesus as far as our role in the world is concerned. Throughout the Old Testament God’s servants were told to do certain things according to certain patterns given to them by God. For example we have the very specific instructions and patterns given to Adam, Noah, and Moses etc. In the past 70 years many different patterns emerged to make a church grow. There were different ways and formulas used as they searched for a pattern everywhere but in Scripture. In Ephesians 1, 2, 3 and 4 we see God’s plan for the Church. It could not come to fullness until it was revealed in Jesus Himself. God’s plan for man was revealed in sending His Son; the Word became flesh and tabernacled with man. (John 1:14). That is why we need to look at the pattern Son, and how He did things.
Jesus began His ministry as a rabbi, a teacher. He spent most of his time with his disciples to train, teach and equip them to take this message to next generations. Jesus was not there to do all the work alone, He was looking for co-workers. He took time to instruct and equip His disciples with a very important purpose in mind. He had all the giftings, everything needed to demonstrate Himself as a prophet, as a political and religious leader as people do today in adopting titles in the Church world. But He focussed His attention on the preparation of men for ministry. He would have remained one man in one place at a time, but He trained His disciples. Everything changed when He died and then ascended on high and took captivity captive and released Himself into the five-fold ministry (Eph. 4:11-14). When the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, He said, Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over (John 12:24 Message). The captivity was broken when Jesus died and ascended on high. There is the transition from Jesus to the many-membered Body of Christ. He gave to the Church apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These ministries were called and placed in the Church to equip the saints to do the work of ministry. As long as the people sit passively in meetings and wait for the men and women in front to do the work, that is where it will end, the saints will not enter into their ministry. All of us are called to do the work. Yes, God has grace carriers that can come and impart and open doors and equip. Eventually the whole Church today should become apostolic, meaning they should be mission minded, they should be apostolic in their view of the world. This includes the ministry of reconciliation and releasing the understanding of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus never came to focus solely on the miraculous. He came to empower those he encountered to carry the gospel with power and grace.
The Church and the world; this is a very relevant topic because the spirit of this age is trying everything to invade the Church. The Church in general is in a very delicate transition and there are a lot of shakings taking place. Here is my assessment: the Church has made major positive strides whenever God broke into history; broke into the daily programs of Church and something happened. The Church was transformed and sometimes the area, sometimes the city was transformed and in some movements within three years it affected the whole world. I see these moves as having given impetus to the Church in its forward move because the moment the power of God ceases, the moment the Holy Spirit is no longer welcome in the Church we resort to other methods and methodologies to make things work. We design methods and formulas to help the church to grow, how to keep the people. We design different models for the church when there is actually just one model in the Bible.
The world has changed, and without compromising truth, we need to find ways to communicate the same truth to this new generation. We cannot give it in the same package as twenty or thirty years ago. What happened over the years is that people tampered with the truth itself and they watered it down so that it is not offensive. We have allowed certain things in a subtle way to affect our thinking.
Holy Spirit power was used to perform, to demonstrate but it did not affect the nature of the believer; it did not bring internal change. What is the answer? Here is the dividing line that separates Christianity from occultism and every kind of oriental cult. They all advise: “get in tune with the infinite” or “wake the giant within you”, “tune in to your hidden potential”, “learn to think creatively”. All these sayings sound very innocent and nothing wrong with them. They may have some fleeting value as a psychological shot in the arm, but its results are not permanent. At its best it builds its hopes upon the fallen nature of man and knows no invasion from above. How can the Church remain the Church of Jesus Christ with Him the Head, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, a temple growing in the Lord? How did Jesus deal with His world? We must answer the question, “How I am dealing with my world?” Jesus did not pray that we be taken out of the world (John 17:15). He said we are not of this world, but sent us into the world (John 17:18). Unless we are thoroughly equipped and baptised in truth when we go into the world, chances are that we will be the ones who are conformed. The power of the world is very subtle and we need each other and we need truth. Jesus said, Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom” (John 3:1-6). This is where the standard has been lowered. In order to make people feel they are coming, they are succeeding, we lower the standard. Jesus kept the standard up. In other words ‘Nicodemus, you do not see what I am doing because you are not born from above’. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. (John 3:1-6 Message).
Every Pastor wants his church to grow but I have decided I am not going to lower the standard to make it grow; I am not going to do it. Jesus had the opportunity to have a prominent leader of the Pharisees join His team, but He said, “You need to be born again”. This is how the pattern Son dealt with it. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit (John 3:6).
All of us potentially carry the grace to be an evangelist. All of us should have the compassion in our hearts when we have the opportunity to ask the right questions and introduce people to the Lord. We have to be salt and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16).
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all (Acts 19:1-7). Paul detected that the Gospel which was preached to them was not completely delivered. Previous seasons have not been wrong but have been incomplete. What God is doing in this transition is sorting out the Church to bring the full truth back up to date. He is bringing the full apostolic truth of transforming the mind, being transformed inside and having the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside. If we can walk with the Holy Spirit on the inside we will not be scared whoever we talk to in the world.
Two things: we follow the example of Jesus the pattern Son, how He confronts His world, never wavering with truth, never lowering the standard but saying it in love, not to offend. Your purpose is not to offend but to reconcile. Your purpose is to demonstrate the love of God.
Ask yourself the question: Lord, to what extend have I been born again? Do I have the boldness of a Paul or Jesus or am I compromising? The world is in need of light. Become that light.