Monday, August 24, 2015

The Jesus Church - Part 2: Defined Mission & Ministry

I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he comes to set up his Kingdom:  Preach the word of God.  Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.  For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.  They will reject the truth and chase after myths.  But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.  Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord.  Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.                       2 Timothy 4:1-5(NLT)

Course corrections are necessary in any venture.  Without careful attention to where the ship is headed, it makes little difference how the ship gets there!  And it doesn’t take much to be off course. 

On day six of the ill-fated mission of Apollo 13, the astronauts needed to make a critical course correction. If they failed, they might never return to Earth.  To conserve power, they shut down the onboard computer that steered the craft. Yet the astronauts needed to conduct a thirty-nine-second burn of the main engines. How to steer? Astronaut Jim Lovell determined that if they could keep a fixed point in space in view through their tiny window, they could steer the craft manually. That focal point turned out to be their destination--Earth.[1]

In New Testament thinking, we are ALL ministers; we are ALL workers in God's field.  We ALL have a ministry to attend to.  God has placed each one of us in His field for the purpose of working out His will in His world. 

Our focal point is sharing the faith – witnessing, preaching the word, just as Paul encouraged Timothy.  Paul called the church body ambassadors for Christ.  He meant that our mission and ministry are carrying a message to the world, the good news of God’s reconciliation.  

Now, if the church is to bring that message to the world – if we are to preach the Word to all people, the next question that comes to mind is; "HOW?" 

Our text this morning leads us to a thorough understanding that Jesus not only saves, but calls each of us to preach the word.   So, this morning we are taking a look at HOW we as a church body are to preach the word.


Preach the Word implies teaching as much as sermonizing.  In New Testament times there were people who were known as "sophists".  The name comes from a word used to describe the study of anything.  They were willing to teach anything for a price. 

The world is like that today; information is at our fingertips.  Snap on the TV and you've got everything from Sesame Street to Peter Jennings to Pornography.  You cannot walk very far in any direction without being subject to something, or someone trying to shape your thinking. 

If we have any kind of competition in the work of the kingdom, it is not other churches that want our members, it is the world, and Satan, and sin competing with the church for the souls of people. 

Our task in preaching the Word is what Paul exhorted Timothy to do in our text:  Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

He was telling Timothy (and us) that false doctrine leads people in the wrong direction, and the best way to combat the effects of false teaching is to teach sound doctrine! 

Banks don’t worry a whole lot about fake money – they teach each new teller trainee what real money.  If a counterfeit shows up, the teller will know!

Our aim is to be organized in teaching the genuine Word of God to all people in everything we do at this church, and to instruct our families at home, and reach our community with the truth contained in God's Word. 

Jesus said to let our light so shine that others will see and give glory to the Father in heaven. 

This is why we EDUCATE.  But we also....


To consolidate means "to combine, to bring things together in one union".  Preaching the Word implies an economy of our time and talents.  It is, as the business world would describe it, maximizing our productivity.  In verse 2 Paul says:  Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not.  The word "prepared" means be ready.  The Amplified New Testament has it:  "Keep your sense of urgency." 

Maximizing our productivity in "preaching the Word" is like that; we must keep a sense of the urgency of Gospel truth in our conversation, our activities, our employment, and our leisure time. 

Our witness for Christ must be a part of everything we are and do.  And it starts right where we live. 



I am convinced that the single most devastating effect on churches that fail, and families that break up, and societies that crumble, is lack of cooperation.  And I believe that the enemy that is at fault is a misconception of what our forefathers designed as freedom.  What we see today as FREE TO DO WHAT I PLEASE is a perversion of freedom as described in the scriptures, as well as the original thought of the Constitution of this country, which is:  I AM "FREE TO DO AS I OUGHT

When people start seeing their own personal agendas, their own selfish interests, as more important than serving, the fiber of anything (home, church family, country) is in serious jeopardy! 

The Apostle James even warned us that the cause of disputes, and fighting amongst the church was lack of cooperative spirit.  Paul warned (v.3,4) that there would come a time when folks would flock to false teachers because glib-tongued, slick operators would say the kinds of things people wanted to hear - RATHER than be obedient to sound doctrine. 

Now cooperation in "preaching the Word" means much more than just being here for the worship service.  It means we must ADHERE to the doctrine the Word of God teaches, and not be drawn aside into weird fads like the NEW AGE movements or feel good messages preached by those who are more interested in popularity than the hard claims of a Gospel that requires followers to leave the comfort zone to pick up a cross daily. 

Cooperation means uniting in the faithful proclamation of the cross of Jesus Christ, and an empty tomb, and a coming King!  It doesn’t mean we need to get bogged down in debates over meaningless questions about religious viewpoints.  Beloved, you don't have to DEBATE the Word with anyone...YOU simply PREACH the Word to everyone! 



To preach the Word is to penetrate and transform/change the world. 

Once again, in our text, to correct is to show error in a convincing manner.  To rebuke is to spotlight error so as to bring about a desired change. To encourage means to be alongside another to give them comfort and strength to succeed.  It’s the picture of standing with your arm around another. 

Our whole purpose in sharing our faith is to bring the light of God's love in focus for our friends, neighbors, and the whole world. 

We cannot do that if we are silent about our faith.  You've heard about the man who bought a parrot for $5,000.  The bird spoke five languages.  The pet shop promised to deliver it that afternoon.  After work the man hurried home and asked his wife if the bird had arrived.  And it had!  Where is it?  In the oven, she replied.  NO....Not the oven; woman, that bird speaks five languagesWell, she said, why didn't he speak up? 

Sometimes you must penetrate the barriers by speaking-up!

In a church I once served I met with men to drink coffee and solve all the major problems of the world.  We always had a good time, discussing, debating, and deciding on the fate of Iraq, the Federal deficit, and other items. 

Once when the waitress came by to check if all was in order, one of the men informed her that this was a group of church officers and a preacher...and there was very little order in it!  She laughed and said, oh, my family are all Christians.  I wanted to pick up on the opportunity, but one of the men beat me to it.... What about you, dear? he said.  She had to confess that she wasn't saved.  Don't you want to have a full life? She smiled as she went back to work.  The battle isn't over with that young lady; she will hear of Christ again. 

Preaching the Word means caring enough to go out on a limb with your self-esteem, your image.  It means placing faith-sharing, preaching the Word, as a priority ahead of personal comfort.  The devil's gospel is being preached in our culture today at an increasing pace.  Despite that, the gospel of Jesus Christ is going to prevail. 

Bottom Line for Us, Here, Today:

This church will live in covenant to deliver the faith, the gospel, bringing the lost to the Savior....or this church will die, languishing on the treadmill of wishful thinking.  There is no neutral place for a church charged with the responsibility of preaching the word!

In ancient times a soldier named Alexander, who had been a coward in battle, was brought before his leader, Alexander the Great.  

Alexander the Great said to Alexander the coward:  Either change your conduct, or change your name

If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, bearing His name, does that not apply to us too?

In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

[1] Stephen Nordbye in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), Leadership.
Title Image: Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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