END TIMES CHURCH WILL BE FOCUSED ON BRINGING OTHERS TO JESUS

Are churches preaching Jesus as a means rather than as the end? “Come to Jesus! Jesus will bless you! Jesus will heal you! Jesus will help you! Jesus will prosper you!

Now, all these things are true. Jesus is concerned about us. But according to the New Testament, these promises are the byproducts of the gospel, not its central message and core. The gospel is not about me. The gospel is about Him.

Loaves and Fishes Christians

“Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26).

In John’s Gospel, the miracles that Jesus performs are called “signs” because they point to who He is as the Son of God. He is their long awaited Messiah.

In this context, it is obvious that Jesus rebukes the people for seeking Him out of self-serving motives. They are not seeking Him because they recognise who He is. They are seeking Him for what they think they can get from Him. They see Jesus as a means to their own personal comfort rather than as the end and goal of life.

Because we have preached a man-centred gospel, our churches are filled with self-centred, immature Christians. They can speak in tongues and prophesy, but they have no real power to counter the forces of darkness so evident today.

Ephesians 1:10 says that God will “gather together in one all things in Christ”. The phrase “gather together in one” is the translation of a Greek word that means “sum” or “total.” In other words, when all of God’s activity in time and eternity are totalled, it will add up to Jesus Christ. He is the end and goal of God’s plan and purpose.

Repentance is the refocusing of a person’s life so that self is no longer the end or goal.

Let us, therefore, repent and take “self” off the throne and enthrone Jesus as Lord. Let us not be afraid to present the demands of His character and grace to this generation. As we proclaim Him as the end and goal of life and eternity, I believe we will see the church refocused on the Great Commission – It’s all about bringing others to Jesus as declared by Australia for Jesus.

LOVE 2 LIVE 2 LOVE: REFLECTION ON CHURCH BY MAN OF GOD

In an interview with The Christian Post, the longtime pastor of the multi-campus Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois, Pastor James MacDonald, candidly shared what he’s learned and continues to learn about the heart of Jesus, and where he sees the Body of Christ going amid profound cultural changes.

With three decades now behind him, MacDonald is already vision casting and planning for the next 30 years, alongside his three children who are also active in ministry. MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Chapel in 1988 with 18 people and today hosts 13,000 at their seven Chicago-area campuses every week.

MacDonald shared that only more substance (Biblical) makes better disciples. And it’s really hard work. Jesus was more gifted than any person on Earth and He spent three-and-a-half full years on 12 people and didn’t get all of them to the finish line. So, it’s really a time consuming, exhausting thing making disciples, and I think I’ve seen the church swing back toward a focus on quality. We’ve said for years in our church “not a quantity of disciples, but quality of discipleship.” And more and more, I hear pastors leaning in that direction.

The primary type of evangelism that we see in the Scriptures is one-on-one. Jesus with Nicodemus, Jesus with the woman at the well, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. And that does not in any way negate mass evangelism. In Acts Chapter 2 we see a mass evangelism situation with the coming of the Holy Spirit. But was that normative or an exception? I think typically we see one-on-one evangelism and to subjugate the Sunday morning, which is so needed for infusion of spiritual strength through proclamation [of the Word], through worship, through fellowship, from giving and serving is, I think, increasingly seen as  inadequate to sustain in a strong, growing church. All of those things stoke the fire of a Christ follower’s vertical relationship [with God].  That’s the reason why in 2012, I wrote the book Vertical Church. We have to come back to that as our primary focus.

James MacDonald’s response to this question is enlightening. “What do you make of the credible allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse within influential churches and Christian ministries over the past two to three years?”

Scripture says “He who sins in the presence of all, rebuke in the presence of all that others may fear.” And you look in the book of Acts when they lied about their tithe, Ananias and Sapphira were taken, “and great fear came upon the Church.” Also, the only response to public exposure of private failure should be to look in the mirror, even when disaster strikes. In every instance when calamity strikes, when personal failure is exposed, we should be looking in the mirror. We should be saying: “There but for the grace of God go I.” We should be deepening our own reflection and repentance. And most of all, we should not be piling on and shaming others but we should be responding with grace and with genuine reflection upon the needs of our own heart. Because none of us are all that we have articulated to be important. And I’m not saying leaders shouldn’t be an example. Of course, leaders need to be an example, and if they are not an example of the believer, then they should step down.

We’re talking a lot in our church right now about what we call “love 2 live 2 love.” You’re not living until you’re loving God. That’s the first great commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And then “live 2 love.” You’re not really loving God unless you’re loving others. And Jesus said the second is like the first. And not like it because they are both great, and not like it because they are both about love. But like it because he was only asked for one and he gave two because they are inseparable.

CHURCH AS GOD INTENDED

Watch this 15 minute presentation by Peter Sutton on church. What can happen when pastors realise that they are just part of God’s church and the denominational barriers come down.

People don’t go to church, they are God’s church, wherever He has placed them in the marketplace. Only then, does the church start to impact communities and cities.

REALITY OF CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP

Good to see this video from Torben about the reality of his experience when sharing the GOSPEL on the streets. When Jesus sent out the twelve disciples His instructions were:

EXPECT PERSECUTION

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Matthew 10:16-25

HAVE NO FEAR

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.Matthew 10:26-33

NOT PEACE BUT A SWORD

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.Matthew 10:34-39

ETERNAL REWARDS

?Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.Matthew 10:40-42

 

CHURCH AS JESUS INTENDED & JOHN 17 UNITY.

In John 17:21, Jesus said that the purpose—goal—of His church here on earth would be accomplished by the testimony of UNITY in His church.

Why is unity so important? “that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe you sent Me” John 17:21. It matters—because when unity is demonstrated to the world, it will be the testimony that Jesus is who He said He is – the only Son of God, Saviour. When Jesus is thus “lifted up” then all men shall be drawn to Him.

Paul continued to emphasise the importance of unity throughout his writings:

 “Be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

This is the vision and purpose Christ has for His body here on earth. Sadly, the world does not see a unified church.

What is the biblical model for unity of the Spirit in the church?

The perfect and highest expression of unity of the Spirit was modelled in the early church after Pentecost: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).

Three distinct levels of unity of the Holy Spirit are actually expressed here:

Level 1 – Basics

(v. 42) “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.”

Level 2 – Signs & Wonders

(v. 43) “Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”

Level 3 – A lifestyle of mutual support and sharing all things

All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

Each of these three represents a progressively higher level of unity in the church, the body of Christ on earth. And, each of these levels is real, tangible, and measurable—just like the actual resurrected body of Jesus.

When you have time watch Francis Chan talk about church as God intended, with all of us using our Holy Spirit given gifts to further God’s Kingdom. Francis walked away from a church of 5,000 in California, when He was challenged by God that very few in the church were using their gifts, and the other issue was how many were really born again.

In the last days, will we see a church like that in the Book of Acts? Yes! we will, and in fact where the church is or has experienced persecution, we are seeing and have seen a unified church. In the Middle East, particularly Syria, the remnant church is unified and operating as the did the church in the Book of Acts and all three levels of unity are visible. The church in China that came out of 40 years of persecution under Mao, same story.

portion of this article was extracted from “Achieving True Unity of Spirit in Your Church” by Louis Posthauer. He is the executive director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry.

BUILDING CHURCH GOD’S WAY

Church do you love your community? How is that expressed? Are you truly serving Jesus with your resources?

Build buildings that don’t load your church with debt and can serve your community. Is this what we see happening today?

God has raised up Dan Cook, architect and construction company owner and founder of Building God’s Way  to serve the church in these last days. Listen to several pastors talk about  church buildings that will serve Christ and the community.

ARE OUR CHURCHES MAKING DISCIPLES?

Great fame, a massive following and financial fortune did not matter to Jesus. And it should not matter to us.

His only obsession was to please the Father. We should be likewise obsessed.

Matthew reported that Jesus preached the gospel and healed the sick all over Galilee. (4:23) Because of his preaching and healing “His fame spread” which resulted in even more preaching and healing. (4:24) The predictable result of all this preaching and healing was that “great crowds followed him.” (4:25)

So, Jesus now has fame and crowds. The only thing missing (for modern success) is the fortune. But great fame, a massive following and financial fortune did not matter to Jesus. And it should not matter to us. But it often does. Even in ministry.

What did Jesus do with His newfound fame and huge following? How did He “leverage his platforms” in order to increase his following? How did He alter His content to increase His followers? How did He monetise His influence? That’s what we would do, right?

Notice carefully what Jesus did. “Seeing the crowds, he went up on a mountain. And when he sat down, His disciples came to Him” (Matt. 5:1).

Two important words: “crowds” and “disciples.”

1. “Seeing the crowds, he went up on a mountain.” Today when we see crowds in our Sunday service, in our campus ministry or on social media, we think we have succeeded. We must be doing something right and God is must be blessing our efforts. In order to be good stewards of our success, we do everything imaginable to maintain and grow our audience. Our first move is to leverage our platform for growth and influence. Jesus did the opposite. His first move was to walk away from the crowd.

2He traded a massive crowd of adorning followers for a small group of committed disciples. A careful reading of the Gospels will reveal that the more crowds followed Jesus, the more he retreated to be alone with the Father and with his disciples.

Every leader of a growing ministry will be faced with an important decision: attract crowds or make disciples. Will we leave the crowds in order to make disciples, or will we allow the demands of the crowd to pull us away from small group discipleship?

Too many pastors and ministry leaders choose the crowds. Pastor Francis Chan, author of best seller, Crazy Love chose correctly, as shown in my recent post Church as God Intended.

This article originally appeared at stevemurrell.com. Steve serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.