Fishers of Men - Part 5
Fishers Of Men 5
"If you don’t ask people for commitment, you won’t get it. And, if you don’t ask your members for commitment, you can be certain that other groups will ask for it: civic groups, service clubs, political parties…The question isn’t whether or not people are going to be committed, but rather who is going to get their commitment (Matthew 6:24)….It’s amazing to me that many community organizations require more from participants than local churches do. If you’ve ever been a Little League parent, you know that when your child signed up to play, you were required to make a major commitment in terms of providing refreshments, transportation, trophies, and victory parties in addition to your attendance. There was nothing voluntary about your participation….The reason we have so many weak Christians is because they are half-committed to many causes rather than being totally committed to the things that matter most. A barrier to spiritual growth for many people is not lack of commitment, but over-commitment to the wrong things" (The Purpose Driven Church pp. 344-345).\
We need to expect the level of commitment from members that Jesus expected (Matthew 6:33; Luke 14:26ff; Matthew 10:32-39; Revelation 2:10; Acts 20:22-27; Philippians 3:7-8; Matthew 22:37). We also need to explain to people the benefits to being committed to God:
- They will be effective and skilled in teaching others (Hebrews 5:11-14; 2 Timothy 2:2).
- They will have the courage to talk to others about God, because they will be ready to give an answer, they will know what they are talking about, and they will be able to handle any objections or accusations (1 Peter 3:15; Acts 6:10).
- Your life will rest on a firm foundation, so many issues, priorities, values, choices, and decisions will be already settled, and you won’t spend your life going over the same old ground over and over again (Ephesians 4:14).
- Resisting peer pressure, the surrounding culture, temptation, and handling criticism and persecution will be so much easier, because you know you are doing the right thing and believing the right thing (Hebrews 11:35; Acts 26:25-29).
- Unlike the apathetic or professed believer who is trying to serve two masters, God will use you and you will make a difference (2 Timothy 2:21).
Help People Develop Spiritual Habits
Someone once said that the second half of a man’s life is made up of the habits he acquired during the first half. "Human beings are creatures of habit. If we don’t develop good habits, we will develop bad ones" (p. 349). The following habits or disciplines need to be stressed again and again: 1. The habit of time with God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15). We must convince people that no one is born "just knowing" what is right. In addition, we can’t use our feelings and emotions to guide us either (Proverbs 16:25). Added to all this, God doesn’t mysteriously guide us, rather He expects us to read the revelation He has given to everyone, in every age (2 Timothy 3:16-17).2. The habit of prayer. Prayer is putting your profession of faith in God into practice (Luke 18:1-8). If we don’t habitually bring our cares to God in prayer then that means that we really don’t trust God. We don’t believe He has the power to solve our problems, we don’t believe that He knows what He is doing, or, we think that we can simply do better on our own. 3. The habit of giving (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). The habit of giving says, "I am still grateful", "I couldn’t have acquired this wealth without God, His principles, His mercy, and His providence", "I am blessed and others need this more than I do", "I already have everything I really need", "I don’t have to hoard or keep everything for myself, because God will provide", and, "This belongs to God anyway". 4. The habit of regular attendance: Which says that I love God and long to worship Him, and that I love His people and want to encourage them (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Remember Jesus’ definition of what it means to be a disciple: A disciple follows the Word of God (John 8:31-32). A disciple bears fruit(John 15:1ff). A disciple will sacrifice themselves for God and others (John 13:34-35).
Purpose Driven Edification
- Our classes and sermons must impart a full and precise knowledge of the Word (Hosea 4:6). And this will be a challenge, especially in light of the wide range of backgrounds from which new converts come and all the errors which are circulating in our society. Hence we must regularly study both the Old Testament and New Testament, including classes which deal with specific issues or doctrines. In addition, we must always be willing to go over the same ground again for the sake of new converts and our children, not to mention, ourselves ( 2 Peter 1:12-13; Hebrews 6:1ff).
- In such classes and sermons we must aim at presenting God’s perspective of things. "In a spiritual sense, it means seeing life from God’s point of view (Isaiah 55:8-9). New believers need to be reminded (and so do we), that it isn’t our job to determine what is the truth, rather, it is our job to bring our thinking in line with God’s thinking. Our job is to simply accept the truth. The Bible makes it clear that sinners lack the right perspective (Acts 26:18; Ephesians 4:17ff). The importance of the right perspective is seen in the fact that such: 1. Causes us to love God more. The better we understand the nature and ways of God, the more we love Him(Ephesians 3:18). 2. Perspective helps us resist temptation. When we look at a situation from God’s viewpoint, we realize that the long-term consequences of sin are greater than any short-term pleasure sin might provide (Hebrews 11:25-26). 3. The right perspective helps us handle and overcome trials. When we have God’s perspective on life we realize that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28); "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18); "knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope" (Romans 5:3-4). Perspective was one of the reasons Jesus was able to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2). 4. Perspective also protects us from error. "If there was ever was time Christians needed to be grounded in the truth, it is today. We live in a society that rejects absolute truth and accepts each opinion as equally valid…The problem is not that our culture believes nothing, but that it believes everything. Syncretism, not skepticism, is our greatest enemy. What is desperately needed today are preachers and teachers who will clearly teach God’s perspective about work, money, pleasure, suffering, good, evil, relationships, and all other key issues of life" (pp. 353,355).
Life Perspectives 101
- Doctrine: Doctrine is simply God’s convictions and if we love Him we will naturally love what He commands (John 14:15).
- God: God is good and always has our best interest in mind. God loves us more than we even love ourselves (John 3:16).
- Jesus: Unselfishly sacrificed Himself for us, the innocent for the guilty. We need to manifest the same self-sacrifice (Philippians 2:3-5).
- The Holy Spirit: Guides us objectively through the Word of God (Ephesians 5:18;Colossians 3:16; John 16:8).
- The Bible: Is verbally inspired (1 Corinthians 2:13); infallible (John 17:17); and transcends time and culture (John 12:48; Matthew 24:35). An all powerful God can certainly keep His book in print, the Creator of the universe can write a book which is historically, scientifically, and spiritually accurate, and, a God who inhabits eternity and can see into the future can give a spiritual, moral, doctrinal, and ethical standard which will be valid until the end of time.
- Creation: Nothing just happened by chance, God created it all, therefore, to reject God is to be labeled as an ingrate.
- Good and Evil: God has allowed evil to provide a choice. God can bring good even out of evil events, good will never overcome evil in this life, but neither will evil overcome good.
- The Afterlife: Death is not the end, but the beginning, and heaven and hell are real places. Man only dies once (Hebrews 9:27),and death ends all opportunities to change and repent (Luke 16:19ff).
- The Church: Is the only true world "superpower" (Hebrews 12:28) and is the bride of Christ, the body of the saved. The role of the church is to stand for the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), and remain in subjection to Christ (Ephesians 5:23-24).
- Prayer: The answer to worry, stress, anxiety, an unknown future, etc…
- The Second Coming: Jesus can come at any time and there won’t be any warning (1 Thess. 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:9-10).
- Salvation: Jesus is the only way (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), water baptism stands between one and the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38), and our salvation is conditional, we must remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:11-13). Apart from Jesus, morality can’t save us, a good attitude can’t save us, good works can’t save us, being religious can’t save us, etc…
- Our Personal Life: God expects us to be pure, unselfish, and ethical in every aspect of our lives ( 1 Peter 1:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 2:1-3). A faith that doesn’t change the way we treat others, that doesn’t impact our marriage, family, friendships, personal integrity, morality, honesty, humility, job, recreation, language, thoughts, priorities, goals, and so on, is a faith that is worthless(James 1:26).
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/644-9017