Evangelism is one of those terms/practices that has become culturally determined. Just like everything else in Scripture, if not held to the authority of the text, it will become subject to human error and self-glory. I’ve been thinking about this and hope you’re listening too….

 

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The second commandment is something that many people have questions about often. I wrote an article last year in relation to the question, “Can a Christian Violate the Second Commandment with Pictures of Jesus?” Here is a podcast on that answer.

There is a question in my heart today that wonders where the solidity of community has gone among the people of God.  The church today is easy to beat up for her worldliness, lack of heart, lack of focus on spiritual things, poor teaching, poor hearing, complacency toward holy things, a lack of concern for the word of God, being devoid of prayer, being too mixed up in matters of the world, debates, debauchery and many more things that could adorn this list of “fusses.”  With all that in mind it is time that the one issue that should govern the churches “look” is the issue of biblical community.  Everything found in scripture for the church to be striving toward is clear and in many cases congregations have these things as “key” or “core” values, but in the end, the “church group” at hand forgets that the body of Christ is to strive for these things as ONE, not many.

The unity of the church is clearly an issue and while some can argue that unity should be on hating things, the scripture reveals that the unity should be on believing things that result in true worship and true life transformation by the power of God’s word through the gospel.  I have to now say that I have a major problem of wanting to deal with every possible issue, thought, philosophy etc., so for the sake of keeping my own mind sane, I want to offer a few areas where the body of Christ should walk in unity and some application that may help us all evaluate our own lives and congregations.

  1. Prayer – The people of God are people of prayer at the foundation of their souls. Without prayer, even the best laid plans are futile and God makes sure of it.  Even when the “event” goes as planned, it isn’t spiritually fruitful.  Prayer is dependence upon God in a state of worship, so we must all be praying as the bible instructs us and the entire church should be a praying people.
  2. Scripture – All protestants walk the pavement of the Reformation and one of the five pillars of the reformation is “sola scriptura” that teaches that the word of God alone is the standard of measure, standard of knowledge, means of revelation and knowledge of salvation etc.  This means that no one comes to know Christ without God’s word and that the church, her offices, her purpose and function are only found within.  Sola Scriptura needs to be revived among the body of Christ and unity in the word starts with the authority of it.
  3. Doctrine – There is much teaching in scripture at every point and comma, and in the necessary things, doctrine must be unified.  Sadly, many who approach heresies are able to sway many from the truth and so many more who avoid teaching truth, sway people to apathy.  If the body of Christ is not learning Christ, they are not the body of Christ.  Unity among the body means that the word of God is taught, not in pragmatism, but in power.
  4. Obedience – Walking holy is the outcome of true salvation.  Not perfectly, but triumphantly! The church should be known for her quiet beauty as she radiates the nature and character of her Bride Groom, Jesus Christ. So, sin must be something that is battled, together, with the whole of the church, not just individual homes, congregations, groups or ministries.
  5. Affection – Scripture is clear that the heart is revealed by the mouth, the mind and the motion of any individual.  The same is true for the church at large. Her affections must be for holiness, Christ, and all things related to His glory.  The body of Christ in unity will walk in the world of darkness as light.  It’s time that the church be presented to the world as she will be presented to her Lord; in splendor and beauty.
  6. Worship – Jesus says in John 4 that the Father is only looking for worshippers and that true worshippers worship in Spirit and in Truth. This means that the church in unity will worship the same God, the same Messiah, not the world’s or the culture’s. The church can worship together the One True God whose name is Jesus because He has made them alive with His Spirit through His Word.
  7. Evangelism (by the church) – Paul says in Ephesians that the church is to be taught by the word of God to do the “work of the ministry.” So, as one body, how is it that so many congregations are never concerned with the mandate to the “ONE” body but rather is only concerned about their own numbers, seats, money and monuments?  Reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the work of God and His people, those truly called by His name, are indeed about this business.  Let’s see the church unified in this effort as each believer does the work, in his or her ability and giftedness by the grace of God.
  8. Purpose & Mission – While there are countless books, seminars, trainings, conferences, videos and podcasts on mission and vision, the word of God alone gives a clear and precise, if not myopic, vision and mission for the church.  She is to be about praising God for His glorious grace in Christ Jesus and teaching ALL NATIONS to obey ALL that Christ has taught from Genesis to Maps… SO, what is the vision of the church? If every congregation were biblical in this point, the CHURCH would live out her faith together in the community instead of being divided and individualistic.
  9. Concern & Burden – This is surely a repeat of some of the points above, but in the end the body of Christ will have a burden for all that burdens God: namely, His glory. It is easy to say that she is doing all things for His glory, but when measured by the true Rod of Scripture, the body falls short. Praying and learning together would afford the reality of knowing the burdens and seeing them aligned from smallest to largest.
  10. Discipline – While many consider this word punitive, scripture says that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  So, discipline according to Hebrews is the evidence of true adoption by God. Discipline allows for the correction of sin and a “lying” lifestyle that stands against the glory of the cross of Christ.  All congregations should be united in discipline for the sake of holiness. That way, the apostate one from one group cannot hide in the folds of another to be used by the devil to do his deeds. (see 2 Timothy.) This command in scripture relates to sinful “civil” actions, not just actions within the church walls.  So, a crook in the office is corrected by the church.
  11. Action & Activity – While there is 3,200 more points that could be expressed, this one may group many together. Good doctrine produces good devotion.  What goes into the heart of the body comes out, so the actions and activity of the local church should depict the major actions and activities commanded, not just implied by the narrative of scripture.  “You will know them by their fruits” Jesus says, so then the simple question remains, “What is the fruit of the CHURCH of Evans County?”
  12. Career – Unity is fleshed out when the body of Christ moves out of “church” things into the “life” things. Every Christian is a minister of the Gospel and every Christian is equipped by the Spirit of God to do what God commands because He has put His spirit in His people. So, no matter what a believer may do for a “living”, he or she is a light to the dark world.  The church should be in unity seeing this lived out for the glory of Christ!

Consider the reality of what the body of Christ is and what she has been ordained and equipped to do.  For more information on these topics, visit GraceTruth.org

For His Glory by His Grace,

Pastor James Tippins

We have been preaching a conference on the true picture of a biblically healthy church. Last night the topic on the table was evangelism. I pray the word of the Lord would shine into your heart. Be blessed.

The following are the words of Bishop JC Ryle and were shared with me today by a brother in ministry.  Read and relish the great wisdom and truth straight from the word.

“…and counteth the cost…” Lk. 14:28

Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:6). But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question: “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.

I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self–denial or self–sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”

But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”

Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction or some sudden death or an awakening sermon has stirred his conscience and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.

1. True Christianity will cost one his self–righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer Book words, that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible reading, church–going, and sacrament receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.

2. True Christianity will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written, “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” “Break off your sins…and iniquities.” “Cease to do evil” (Ezek. 18:31; Dan. 4:27; Isa. 1:16).

This sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come. “Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner’s mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not,” yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved (Job 20:12, 13). He and sin must quarrel if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins. Continue reading “What it Costs to be a True Christian | JC Ryle”

This won’t be a long dragged out treatise on affection and eternal focus, it’s really a theological gripe stemming from a world-view that I should not fuss over because it is expected.  I recently was forced to watch a hip-hop video that was auto played in my browser by a prominent artist who just released a new song revolving around his desire to live for himself.  He made the statement that if haters laugh, they will stop when the “paper” or money piles up.

Not that we should have no money, but recently I see so many young people leave the faith to pursue the treasures of the world.  It discourages me.  The reason this happens is not because of the churches inability to draw and keep them, but because they never loved Jesus.  Don’t crucify my generalization, but at large, the main stay of people who come to Christ (per se) and walk away were never His.  Those who do walk, or rather step away who are His are drawn back by His grace.  The temptations of the world are strong and highly seductive and many youth and young adults feel empowered to be successful financially and empowered by the prestige of worldly success.  This is the problem we see with the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 who desired eternal life, just not enough to give away his true love, his possessions of rot and decay.

I pray that each of us would look around our homes, at our bank statements and realize that there is none that doesn’t have idols.  Even some of my favorite bibles can become idols at times.  However, the reality for the children of God is that they pursue HIM above the world and what they have that is of the world they realize it comes from Him hand for His glory.  Our stewardship of stuff is a clear indicator of our affection toward Christ.  We should pray for God to help us be generous, frugal and focused on eternal glory rather that the glory that comes from men.

Just a minute ago I tweeted a statement that said, “For tha paper chasers, know that if it ain’t scripture paper it might as well be toilet paper… The World is DYING, #ChristAlone 1Jn2:15″  Many people began to comment privately to me in support of the truth behind it.  Money and wealth (paper) is nothing but additives to the dung heap of this dying world.  Pray for yourself and your siblings in Christ and for sure the lost around us that they might see and savor the greatest treasure of the cosmos; Jesus the Christ!

Matthew 7:13-14
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Hebrews 11:36-40
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

1 John 2:15-18
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Matthew 13:44-50
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Let us continue to pursue Christ by means of His marvelous grace.  Thank Him for what we do have, but hold it loosely.  I am very very thankful that my identity is in Christ and not the things of this dying world.

For His Glory by His Grace,

James Tippins

Because of the lack of true purity in the body of Christ through the decades, church discipline has been reserved for the mass murderers and public mass abusers of children.  Everyone else seems to be immune, especially in their own hearts, to any time of accountability to holy living.  In the last four years we have taught and taught on church discipline to the congregation and other pastors.  We have taught the holiness of God, the call and purpose of the church and the effects of sin on the individual and the body of Christ.  With all the right teaching, direction and instruction it seems that people would be welcome and ready for the true practice of discipline within the church, and for the most part they are as long as it is done in a counseling arena, helping people feel ok about their sin and just keep it to themselves. (Sarcasm)

When discipline actually becomes visible; when a person is actually brought before the church; this is when the true nature and power of the gospel is revealed in many hearts.  In an attempt to disciple and settle so many confused minds and hearts concerning this issue, Dr. Sam Storms provides a really well developed question series on this issue that I have pasted below.  I would love your comments as we all strive to continue in the faith for the Glory of God.

First, why is church discipline so neglected, if not ignored altogether, in our day? Among the many reasons that could be cited, here are a few. Perhaps the principal cause is a pervasive ignorance of biblical teaching on the subject (many believe that it is infrequently mentioned in Scripture and therefore unimportant; others are ignorant of the purpose of discipline and see it only as destroying the person).

Another factor is calloused, insensitivity toward sin; a failure to take seriously the offense of sin and a tendency toward unsanctified mercy in our treatment of the unrepentant. Undoubtedly the spirit of individualism also plays a role. We have lost the sense of community and mutual responsibility one for another. How often has it been said, as a way of justifying our passivity toward sin, “Well, it’s not really any of my business, is it?” Discipline is costly because my brother’s/sister’s business now becomes mine.

A misapplication of our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that you be not judged”) has certainly put hesitancy in the hearts of many in regard to dealing with sin in the local church. The fear of rejection also comes into play (i.e., the fear of being told by the offending party: “Mind your own business. You have no authority to tell me what I can and can’t do”).

I strongly suspect that fear of legal reprisal in the form of lawsuits has paralyzed many. Many people (even church leaders) simply dislike confrontation. Talking directly about personal sin with an offender is difficult; it makes us feel uneasy and uncomfortable; so why rock the boat? Many think that if we simply ignore the problem, in time it will go away. “Time heals all,” or so they contend.

I’ve known instances where discipline stalled from fear of driving the person away, especially if the offender is a major financial contributor to the church! Related to this is the fear of dividing and ultimately even splitting the church over whether and how and to what extent discipline should be applied (invariably many think the discipline was too severe, while others are convinced it was too lenient).

Many struggle with a false concept of discipline because of observed abuses. In their minds discipline is associated with heresy hunts, intolerance, oppression, harshness, mean-spiritedness, self-righteousness, legalism, etc. Related to this is the fear of being labeled a cult if we insist on too strict a code of conduct for our members.

Others resist taking disciplinary steps because it entails change. In other words, the power of tradition is hard to overcome: “We’ve never done it before and we’ve done o.k. Why risk messing things up now?” Continue reading “Church Discipline | A Welcome Idea but a Rejected Reality”

Over The last few months God has been showing me more and more just how much I need to be squeezed.   I’m not talking about the squeeze as in the affectionate hug,  I’m talking about a squeeze as in a cleansing squeeze. You know, like a sponge you are trying to rinse after washing the tires on the car.  I’m talking about a pressing, molding, kneading by the hand of God to the point that I am no longer the same man I was before.  Not that any of us really think we have arrived, but sometimes we think we have at least began to see the destination in some areas of our lives.  It is at that moment that God reaches down and rinses some of that self-reliant dirty water out our minds and souls.

God is showing me how His squeezing removes from me things that have been stored up inside for some time.  Those areas of ministry, family, study etc, that just stay where they are and I’m fine with them.  I understand them just fine and they love me.  Not that they are wrong or sinful, well not all of them, but they are content.  But what I am learning is that if I am to expand in my faith, I must be willing to feel the burden of being rinsed so that there will be “room” for growth.

Just like a sponge; we are ready to absorb when we are dry, but a damp sponge can never fully absorb a “new” liquid, until the old liquid is finally ringed out.  And don’t think of this metaphor as me saying that what we already have or know from God or His word is dirty, but it can become stale.  We can get to where our testimony of God’s hand in our lives starts out with, “last month God showed me…”  That’s a sad choice of words for a child of God.  What is God showing us right now?  Well, for me, God is showing me that sanctification comes in all shapes, sizes, ages and smells.  Most of all, He brings about sanctification through trial and burden.

God’s sanctification of His children, though not pleasant at times, is always joyful.  It’s joyful because the more He rinses us in His grace, the more like Him we become.  Then our hearts grow weary of the flesh and the world and we crave for more of His holiness in our lives.  We strive to run from sin and jump into His hand of discipline that shapes us into the saints that He has declared us to be.

The reality of growing in our walk with Christ comes through the squeezes or the rinses of trial, fire and sin.  When we sin, God disciplines us, corrects us and shows us our wickedness and reminds us of His grace given through the flesh of Jesus Christ.  When we face a trial or temptation, God provides us with the power to overcome the world through Christ.  We are people created for His glory and His workings in our lives are forever near.  The pressures of this world are not really something that we should pray against, for God to remove, but rather endure and run into the fire so that God would be shown glorious!

Through fire, the dross is burned and new growth emerges.  Through death, a seed brings forth life.  Through the tearing down of muscle comes great strength, such is the outcome of our faith when it is tested, burned and tried.  Christ is our hope, He is our resolve, His grace is sufficient, but we would never know the reality of such glorious power without the burdens of this world to test our affections, actions and attitudes.

Be strong in the Lord today, hold on as God squeezes more and more of the world out of you to form you into what He has already declared you to be: holy.  When we are fully dry and empty of our flesh, our sin and the affections of this world, then He dips us ever so deeply into the flowing blood of Christ to experience the remarkable and extravagant grace of His ineffable love.

Hebrews 12:4-11
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

For His Glory by His Grace,

James Tippins

 

This lecture is one of the best on the fall I have ever heard. We had the privilege of Christian Soldier’s Ministries bring Dr. Downing in for this event and this lecture will most likely be a three part series. Take about an hour and listen, it’s well worth it.

The general listing of questions is posted below the audio.

1. What is the significance of Genesis chapter three?
2. What have their beginnings here?
3. Who was the tempter and what was his motive?
4. What is sin?
5. Why did the serpent approach the woman?
6. How did the serpent approach the woman?
7. At what point was the woman seduced by the serpent?
8. What was the serpent’s lie and its effect?
9. Why did Adam and Eve hide themselves from the voice of the Lord God?
10. What answer did Adam give to the Lord God?
11. What was Eve’s response to the question of the Lord God?
12. What was the significance of the curse upon the Serpent?
13. What is the woman’s desire toward her husband?
14. What was the effect of Adam’s sin upon creation?
15. What did the Lord God provide for fallen, sinful man?
16. What occurred in the human personality as a result of the fall?
17. What is the significance of the wilderness temptation of our lord?
18. What is the ultimate purpose of God for fallen creating?