“Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you.”
“2 Thessalonians 3: 1 is an often-quoted missionary text, and rightly so. This verse provides powerful hope of a dynamic work of God through the ministry of the Word. The phrase “the word of the Lord” is probably best viewed as the Gospel primarily, but it cannot be separated from the rest of God's revealed truth (cf. Acts 20: 27). This is language that reflects the summary statements in Acts of the church’s advance (4: 29, 31; 6: 7; 12: 24; 19: 20). The spread of the gospel is the spread of the Word, whether called “the word of Christ” (Rom. 10: 17), “the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5: 19), or “the word of God” (1 Thess. 2: 13).
This verse serves as a good reminder that the front line of God's work in this dispensation is the preaching of God's Word. Other activities have their place, but they cannot have first place. God has chosen the “foolishness” of preaching to save the lost. Much of contemporary ministry philosophy seems to have lost its confidence in the effectiveness of God's Word to convert the lost and to conform the saved into the image of Jesus Christ. Any lack of powerful effectiveness is not due to a shortage of power on God’s part or any weakness of the Word. It may, however, be evidence of our lack of faith and our lack of prayer.” (Doran, David M. For the Sake of His Name. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018, 108-109)
“Church planting is the necessary context for the two central components of disciple-making—baptizing and teaching. These components communicate a responsibility that clearly goes beyond bringing a person to faith in Christ: publicly identifying with Christ and learning the teachings of Christ. As we noted in examining the task of missions, a person who has not been baptized and who does not hold fast to the apostolic teaching may not be a genuine believer.
So how do I come to the conclusion that these activities must happen in the context of the local church? Consider Acts 2: 41-42:
So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
The threefold pattern of Matthew 28 is here in this text: evangelism (“ received his word”), incorporation into the body of believers (“ were baptized… there were added”), and instruction (“ apostles’ teaching”). The commission clearly entails more than evangelism, if evangelism is strictly defined as leading someone to a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and the opening pages of church history confirm this. Those who professed faith in Christ identified with Him in baptism and brought themselves under His teaching through the Apostles.
In fact, the apostle Paul, writing to the believers at Ephesus, makes clear that the Lord’s plan for the time until He returns involves the “official” function of pastor-teachers “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4: 12). The Lord Jesus has provided gifted men to lead the church in fulfilling the Great Commission responsibility of “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
The local church is the God-ordained means for the baptizing and instructing of those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ. Without the formation of local assemblies, the commission cannot be fulfilled. When we accept Christ, we are brought into union with Him and placed into His body, the church. Though the “church” is the mystical, universal Body of Christ, the responsibilities of baptizing and teaching belong to the local church as visible expression of that Body. Thus church planting must be the target of missions.” (Doran, David M. For the Sake of His Name. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018, 62-63)
“First, we cannot fall prey to the idea that the Great Commission means evangelism alone, especially if it is cut off from discipleship. Christ has commanded us to make disciples, not count up evangelistic decisions. If all we have is a choice between getting the gospel to a group of people in a one-time shot or doing nothing, obviously, we should take the one-time shot and trust God to do the rest. But it is not legitimate to turn that decision into a ministry goal or guideline. The Great Commission is not fulfilled until there are disciples who continue to obey the teachings of Jesus Christ and bear fruit through Him. We must consistently make that our objective, strategizing and striving toward that end.” (Doran, David M. For the Sake of His Name. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018, 57)
“A few years ago I heard a preacher illustrate the concept of receiving salvation by drawing a comparison between getting saved and getting on an airplane. Once you have boarded the plane, the preacher explained, you will arrive at the original destination whether you still want to or not. In the same way, he argued, once you have accepted the gift of eternal life, you will end up in heaven whether you still want to or not. I hope you are as shocked reading this as I was when I heard it. In a hopefully well-intentioned attempt to protect the doctrine of eternal security the preacher actually distorted the gospel and the biblical meaning of saving faith. This illustration perpetuates the false view that you only receive a ticket to heaven, not Christ Himself, when you profess faith in Christ. And instead of a faith that embraces Jesus Christ because it sees God’s glory in His face (2 Cor. 4: 6), this illustration presents us with a “faith” that does not continue until the day of Christ (Phil. 1: 6) and therefore is not based in the power of God. This kind of one-time faith is not genuine saving faith.” (Doran, David M. For the Sake of His Name. Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018, 39).
“Not long after I was chosen Pastor at Park Street, I was interviewed by a good man who had left the church, having been, as he said, “treated shamefully.” He mentioned the names of half-a-dozen persons, all prominent members of the church, who had behaved in a very unchristian manner to him,—he, poor innocent sufferer, having been a model of patience and holiness! I learned his character at once from what he said about others (a mode of judging which has never misled me), and I made up my mind how to act. I told him that the church had been in a sadly unsettled state, and that the only way out of the snarl was for every one to forget the past, and begin again. He said that the lapse of years did not alter facts; and I replied that it would alter a man’s view of them if in that time he had become a wiser and a better man. I added that all the past had gone away with my predecessors, that he must follow them to their new spheres, and settle matters with them, for I would not touch the affair with a pair of tongs. He waxed somewhat warm; but I allowed him to radiate until he was cool again, and we shook hands, and parted. He was a good man, but constructed upon an uncomfortable principle, so that, at times, he crossed the path of other people in a very awkward manner; and if I had gone into his case, and taken his side, there would have been no end to the strife. I am quite certain that, for my own success, and for the prosperity of the church, I took the wisest course by applying my blind eye to all disputes which dated previously to my advent. It is the extremity of unwisdom for a young man, fresh from College, or from another charge, to suffer himself to be earwigged by a clique, and to be bribed by kindness and flattery to become a partisan, and so to ruin himself with one-half of his people.” (C.H. Spurgeon. Autobiography, Vol. 1 & 2, Pilgrim Publications, 362-363.)
For the mid-week devotional at our prayer meeting, see sermonaudio.com.
The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1-2)
Within the last couple of weeks – as part of my weekly regiment – I was listening to a cycling podcast. Most of my podcasts are sermon-related. However, a major portion of my weekly exercise is on a bicycle. Therefore, I listen for training, health-related issues, and general encouragement. I also usually listen during “admin” time, so I am not giving my whole attention but loosely paying attention. One sentence in a recent podcast caught my attention. It ran along these lines.
“The body’s natural state is one of health.”
My next thought was, “Is this true?” This statement is an unchallenged statement, not only in the culture but also among many, if not the majority of genuine believers.
After some reflection that day, I want to propose that the answer to the question, “Is our body’s natural state one of health?” is, “no.”
These were some of my thoughts concerning this over several days.
3 John 2 – a prayer is a request formed out of need. The Apostle acknowledges the prosperity of Gaius’ soul. Gaius is walking in truth and manifesting cruciform love before the church. These are an indication of a soul flourishing in Christ. John makes request from the Lord that things would go well for Gaius in this world and for the state of his body to be in good health. For our purposes, if the default state of the body is health then what is the point of praying for his health? One might pray that Gaius would be guided to the right foods so that his default state of health might return. This is not the concern of John. John’s prayer and desire for Gaius is that he would be in good health. This implies that perhaps Gaius’ natural state is not one of good health.
Psalm 103:3 – this is in keeping with this psalm of thanksgiving. Bless the Lord … who is healing all your diseases. Salvation is of the Lord, and one of His physical deliverances is our body from disease.
Job 1:9-12; 2:5 – the thought that came to mind immediately after the question, “Is this true” was Job. Satan accused God of putting a protective fence of protection around Job, his household, and all that he possessed. There was no crack in the wall of protection (on every side). Satan destroyed all he possessed – his children, his business, his wealth. Satan then sought to destroy Job’s flesh. The only protective fence that remained was to take Job’s life. Please note how quickly Satan moves to murder Job. This is the Adversary.
The natural state of anything is under the curse of sin and death. Corruption pervades all things.
Apart from God’s mercies, mankind would be destroyed – soul, body, and possessions. Lost mankind shares under the wrath of God but presently it is mixed with mercy – their health, their wealth, their family, and their affairs. Believing mankind has protective fencing around them. Apart from these mercies of the Lord, our natural state is dying and death.
Saying that “our body’s natural state is health” misunderstands the curse due to Adam’s sin.
The understanding that our all is due to the Lord’s common and special grace preserves both a thanksgiving and growing gratitude in Christ. When calamity comes, believers know that it has been filtered by His mercy, for our good, and for His glory.
Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. (Psa 34:11)
“David was a famous musician, a statesman, a soldier, but he doth not say to his children, I will teach you to play upon the harp, or to handle the sword or spear, or draw the bow, or I will teach you the maxims of state policy, but I will teach you the fear of the Lord, which is better than all arts and sciences, better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices. That is it which we should be solicitous both to learn ourselves, and to teach our children.” (Matthew Henry)
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you … (Col 3:16a)
A Spirit-filled believer is a Word-filled believer.
And I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (Joh 17:26)
A Spirit-Word-filled believer is a Love-filled believer.
A Spirit-Word-Love-filled (for these are One) believer speaks according to the Word, serves one another in humility, and is thankful in all things for tendered mercies (Eph 5:19-21).
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; (Hebrews 5:7)
In all my fears may one fear prove superior— the fear of the Lord.
“In the passion narratives Mark portrays Jesus chiefly according to the model of the suffering servant of Isaiah. Immediately before the passion Jesus tells a parable about the only son of a vineyard owner who suffers rejection and death at the hands of insolent tenants (12:1–12). The parable ultimately reflects Jesus’ own fate, which transpires in the crucifixion account. Ironically, his death on the cross is the place where both his mission and his identity as Son of God converge, and as such the cross is the first place where humanity recognizes him as God’s Son (15:39).” (Edwards, James. The Gospel According to Mark. PNTC, 16)
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor 4:3–6)
“In context, he is making it clear that this rejection is not due to any flaws in the message or even in the messengers. If unbelievers reject the gospel, it is because Satan has blinded their minds. But the passage does not simply state that Satan blinds unbelievers from seeing the gospel. Verse 4 says that Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” So, the devil keeps people trapped in condemnation by blocking their vision of the “glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The heart of the gospel message, therefore, is the glory of Christ. Verse 6 further expands on God’s glory in the gospel by describing the gospel message as “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” The gospel that saves people is a gospel that reveals God’s glory in Jesus Christ. If people don’t accept the gospel, it is because they don’t see God’s glory in it. The verse that comes between these two phrases further reinforces this truth. It is precisely because the gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” and “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” that Paul without hesitation claims, “we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord.” Contrary to many contemporary approaches of evangelism that tailor-make the gospel to fit the needs of the hearer, the biblical gospel focuses first on Christ, not the sinner. We preach Christ, not an eternal life insurance policy or keys to changing your life. The gospel, the message that is the heart of missions, is the truth that God’s glory is revealed in Jesus Christ. He is Lord before whom all will bow, either now in repentance or later in judgment.” (David M. Doran, For the Sake of His Name (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2018), 16-17)