Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Did He Invite?


In Mark 1, Mark encapsulates the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (vv. 14, 15). Jesus did not invite people to gatherings. Galilee was the most populous of the regions of Palestine. He went there and preached right where the people were. Paul later tells us that "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Not much gospel preaching is happening today. Two other activities occur: 1) Inviting people to church, and 2) Taking people through a system of verses and repeating a prayer at the end. There isn't one example in the New Testament of anyone inviting someone to church. We are commanded nowhere to invite the unsaved to gather with believers.

People have a lot of reasons why they don't follow the example of Jesus in His work. "It doesn't work." "People get turned off." "You lose opportunities." "People don't like to have it shoved down their throats." Of course, none of these are Scriptural. These reasons manifest pragmatism. Sometimes "if it works, do it" is called "practical." Obeying Scripture is called "impractical." Many point to results to justify. However, none of us can judge results. God always uses the same means to save people---His Word---but He is glorified when we follow the Scriptural pattern. Not doing so is leaning on our own understanding, not acknowledging Him, and then not having Him direct our paths. Who directs the path when we do it our way? We do, of course. Does it work out better when we do it our way? Never. We know that by faith. Living by faith requires putting aside what we think will work. God sees things in one eternal present. We can't know the damage that using false methodology does. We might see numerical success, encourage others to do the same as us, and now dozens and hundreds of churches are mimicking us because what we do has shown results. In all of this, we are honored and God is ignored.

Preaching the wrong gospel is worse. The ones who invented and then perfected the travesty of corrupt evangelism have made it into a slick business presentation. Some of the same ones talk about having the power of God in evangelism, and they go out and misrepresent Scripture. The power of God is found in the Word of God (Heb. 4:12), the sword of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Instead, men have taken out repentance, counting the cost, and the message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Ninety times in Acts Jesus is called Lord and only twice, Savior. Christ's Lordship was the saving message of the apostles. In 2 Peter 2:1, denying Lordship is said to be what most characterizes the apostate. Is it possible that these non-Lordship "evangelists" have simply spread apostacy throughout the land, explaining why so many professions, and yet so much godlessness.

This issue is really simple. Look at the methods of Jesus and the apostles and follow them. They were not complex. These methods did require studying the Word of God to do real spiritual warfare, to pull down strongholds in men's minds. They required faith and courage. They weren't expensive, except to each individual who was setting himself apart as a Christian in a godless society. The emphasis is no longer going out to where people are and preaching the truth. We know that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the lost. We can't make true preaching into anything else to them. The new emphasis is making the church into something the world will want to visit or the message into something that the world will want to hear, and in so doing, we are dishonoring God, turning men into darkness, glorifying man, and ruining the soil that could perhaps be much more pliant if professing believers had done otherwise.

14 comments:

Cathy McNabb said...

So Pastor B is it wrong for the unsaved to gather with the saved at church, since church is technically the body of believers and we are to be unequally yoked?

Even So... said...

Enough bullseyes there to make my head spin; good work.

David C. Kanz said...

Good points, Kent.

We have confused what church meetings are all about. They should not be geared as mass evangelism meetings which relieve believers of their obligations---ie bringing the unconverted to the "professional" in order to hear the gospel. This mentality smacks of Catholicism and the priest-craft rather than Biblical Christianity.

Jeff Voegtlin said...

I'm listening.

Chris Stieg said...

Obviously the New Testament commands preaching the Gospel, which is not the same as inviting lost people to church.

Would you say it is wrong to invite lost people to church?

From what I can see, there is no Biblical command FOR or AGAINST it. In absence of such Biblical directives, would pragmatism necessarily be a bad thing?

This is an interesting subject. Thanks for your thoughts.

Kent Brandenburg said...

David, yes. Thanks. I see this as part of it.

Cathy, thank you, and the Bible says that the unsaved don't understand spiritual things and are dead spiritually, so I don't think they care if they are unequally yoked or not, but if you are talking about believers being unequally yoked, an unbeliever coming to a service of saved people does not yoke those believers with that unbeliever; however, I am thinking that you already knew that. Thanks Cathy.

Chris,
Thanks. Our program isn't what isn't wrong, but what is right, that is, what Jesus did. We ought to walk as He walked. Inviting should not be the manner a church operates. The Bible is sufficient, and not doing it the Bible way we should assume will be bad for reasons I stated in the article. We live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, not by everything that doth not proceed out of the mouth of God. To raise strategies not mentioned in Scripture to something acceptable because we think it "works," dishonors God. It is disobedient when we replace His way with our way. We should not think ours is superior or start thinking it is acceptable because we see no mention of it in the Bible. Thanks for commenting, Chris.

Terry McGovern said...

Bro Kent,

I agree with the basis of your post. Very true. I do have one question for you.

At one point in the post, you seem to suggest lordship salvation. Do you believe in lordship salvation? I in no way believe in 123 prayer a prayer and your saved. However, I do not beleive in works either. I wrote a little about my view point on this several weeks ago. Here is the link to what I wrote:
http://missionary-insights.blogspot.com/2006/03/life-or-no-life-when-lazarus-was.html

Please do not think I am trying some cheap gimmick to get you to go to my blog. :) I just think the post would let you see where I am coming from. If you would prefer to remove the link before posting my comment that is fine.

Cathy McNabb said...

Pastor B the reason I asked is I have read that Church isn't for the unsaved, thus we shouldn't invite the unsaved to church. It looked to me that is where you were headed, although I don't think that is what you meant, so I was just clarifying, Thank you.

Dave Mallinak said...

Someone brilliant (brillianter than myself) once said, "Pragmatism doesn't work". I see evidence of this even in my own church, among the men who go "evangelizing", but really aren't evangelizing. They are simply inviting people to visit our church. They fail to do any real evangelizing, and consequently, they fail to see any fruit. On the other hand, when those same people go to work, they faithfully share the gospel, and they have resultant fruit to their account... those who had the gospel preached to them are now faithful in the church. Interesting to note what God blesses.

On the other hand, I would point out that of those saved since I entered the pastorate, the majority attended church for a month or more before they professed faith in Christ. That being said, it is true that "pragmatism doesn't work", but that doesn't mean there should never be any pragmatic considerations. We might want to think about what will work, of course while being guided by the authority of Scripture. In other words, if God commands it, we don't give it another thought. We do it. We don't consider whether it will work. But in doing what God commands, in trying to fulfill his Word, we need to think through how best to carry out that command. In a practical sense, will this work? Will this fulfill his command? Will this accomplish what God wants?

So, here is a thought, or a question, or both, or neither. If you are faithfully sharing the gospel, and you see that the person is listening, though not responding, what would be wrong with encouraging them to join you at church on Sunday?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Wow, I wrote out these great comments and then lost them. I have to start over. Bro. Terry, Put links here any time and I'll read your post. Thanks. It depends on how "Lordship salvation" is defined. I don't believe in it if it is how David Cloud presented it on his site. However, I don't know anyone on the planet that believes what he wrote, so he is, I believe, arguing a straw man. The passage we use often, and I think rightly, to present salvation, Rom. 10:9, says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth" what? "The Lord Jesus." No Lordship, no repentance. You turn from your way to His way---turn from idols (including yourself) to serve the living and true God. You can't remain in rebellion against God and be saved. I'll read your article.

Pastor Mallinack,

The person that visits after the gospel is presented is likely someone striving "to enter the narrow gate" and "seeking the Lord while He may be found." The reason that person who visits is often the one who makes a "profession" that "sticks" is because of this. Jesus regularly threw up a guantlet to people who said they wanted to follow Him. Unsaved people who come to church after a gospel presentation are morelikely counting the cost.

More could be said, but I didn't have any problem with what you wrote.

And Cathy, thanks again. Do you have a verse that says that church is for unbelievers? If you don't, then I'll let you make a conclusion based on what you know in Scripture, since I'm not an authority.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure who's on which side of this issue...but-

Not invite the unsaved to church?

Jesus included everyone - lepers, beggars, prostitutes, etc.

Who are we to exclude any child of God from His house? That is not the example that Jesus gave us. How can the unsaved become saved, if they're not invited to church?

Ridiculous.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous, when you say, "Jesus included everyone," you are talking about the people who Jesus preached to. He preached to everyone. However, they had to be saved to become one of His disciples. Until we are convereted, none of us are a "child of God" (John 1:12), but a child of the devil (John 8:44).

You must not have been reading at all, because the way the unsaved get saved in the NT is by hearing the gospel preached and believing it. A church gathering is just that a church gathering, so it isn't a place where evangelism (gospel preaching) is occurring.

If this is ridiculous to you, then the Bible is ridiculous to you, because it what it teaches. And Jesus is the Jesus of the Bible, not of anyone's invention.

Cathy McNabb said...

Pastor B. This what I am thinking maybe wrong and you can feel free to correct.

Yes, the church is a body of believers. The Bible does teach that.

However the verses I keep falling back to is Romans 10:11-17.
V. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.


12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

13
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Joel 2:32

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Isa 52:7

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
Isa 53:1

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

So I would say that since "good" churches have pastors and preach the word of God, that it would be Biblical to have the unsaved and invite them to church.

Do I make sense?

Jerry Bouey said...

I understand that the church services are FOR the saved - to edify and equip us. Their primary purpose is not to win the lost - HOWEVER, there are NT passages that indicate that there will always be lost people in with the brethren, and some of the NT epistles and passages do address this (Matthew 13; 2 Corinthians 13:5, as an example). I find it interesting that the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3 actually quite clearly address those that are lost among the assemblies and exhort them to get saved (be Overcomers through faith in Christ - 1 John 5:4-5). In fact, the letter to Laodicea's primary application is to the lost end-time professing Christian (as a study of the terms and symbolism used will reveal).

Basically, I take Spurgeon's approach: preach to the saved, but include material in every sermon for the lost. At times have the whole sermon dealing with salvation - but don't go to an extreme where you are preaching a salvation message every sermon (ie. always touch down on the Gospel, but don't have every message theme on salvation). Preach to edify the saved, but realize the lost (and some "professing" brethren that are not truly saved) will be there.