4/29/2010

Sola Scriptura

4/29/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , , No comments
Sola scriptura (literally translates "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the bible is the only infallible and inerrant authority of Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.  To be clear on this, the doctrine of sola scriptura does not contend that no tradition, creed, etc. may be used to communicate or teach truth, only that all traditions, creeds, etc. must be subservient to and corroborated by scripture.  All other means of communicating truths are fallible, meaning they can contain errors.  Only scripture is infallible and cannot contain errors.

The question, then, is does the bible teach that it is infallible and does it teach that any device other than itself is fallible or infallible.  There are two ways doctrines and knowledge are communicated through scripture, explicitly and implicitly.  Explicit teachings are ones that the texts actually state.  For example, the teaching that Jesus died on the cross is explicitly taught in scripture.  There are bible verses that state, very plainly, that Jesus did in fact die for our sins.  1 Corinthians 15:3 is one such scripture.  Other teachings and doctrines are taught implicitly, that is they do not have verses stating their truth but they are present throughout scripture none the less.  The doctrine of the Trinity is one of  the most commonly held implicit doctrines of the church.  No one verse states that the Godhead is formed of the Father, Son, and Spirit but the whole of scripture testifies that that is indeed the case.

I believe that sola scriptura is a combination of both explicit and implicit teachings in the bible.  I will examine both ways of discovering this doctrine in scripture.

The most explicit teaching of the doctrine of sola scriptura is found in 2 Timothy 3:16.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness -- 2 Timothy 3:16



There is some debate as to whether the Greek word pas that is translated "all" here should be instead translated "every" but it does not change the meaning of the verse either way.  Either the whole of scripture is breathed out by God or every individual or passage of scripture is breathed out by God.  Either way, the end result is that all of scripture is God breathed.

The next issue is what exactly Paul is referring to when he says "scripture".  Certainly he does not mean the exact bible we have today because it did not exist in its entirety at the time of this writing.  Certainly he was including what we would call the Old Testament in his definition of "scripture".  The question is does Paul intend to mean only the Old Testament.  I don't believe so.  In verse 15 Paul specifically references the Old Testament writings to Timothy.

and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. -- 2 Timothy 3:15

The Greek word used for "sacred writings" in verse 15 is gramma while in verse 16 the Greek word graphe is translated to "scripture".  Why the change in word usage?  Consider the following quote from the Coffmann Commentaries on this verse:


Paul did this for the simple reason that he wishes to draw a distinction between the Old Testament (2 Timothy 3:15) and WHATEVER has a right to be called divinely inspired Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). The latter comprises more than the former. The earnest conviction of this writer supports Hendriksen's comment on this, and no objections to it have any weight against it. Scholars agree that this verse applies to the Old Testament, but the error comes when some of them also refer 2 Tim. 3:16 to the Old Testament, on the premise that the New Testament at the time of Paul's writing had not been written. Nevertheless, a great deal of the New Testament had indeed already been written. In fact every book of the New Testament preceding 2 Timothy, of which there are no less than fifteen, had already been in circulation for a period of time covering up to three decades! Indeed some of the New Testament was to come subsequently to the publication of 2 Timothy, but as regards the central message of the New Testament, it had already been published for decades; besides that, Paul left room here for whatever writings in the future might qualify as Scripture. Also, the notion that Paul did not consider his own writings as Scripture is also false. Time and again in his epistles, he used the ancient formula of the prophets of God, "thus saith the Lord," or "He saith," as in Ephesians 4:8; 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, etc. Therefore, 2 Tim. 3:15 refers to the Old Testament, and 2 Tim. 3:16 refers to the New Testament, in addition to and inclusive of the Old Testament, thus, to both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Peter also shows us that the letters of the Apostles were being accorded "God-breathed" status in 2 Peter 3:15-16.  Peter also uses the Greek word graphe for "Scriptures" as Paul did in his letter to Timothy.

And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. -- 2 Peter 3:15-16


The term "God-breathed" is translated from the Greek theopneustos. That word is used no other place in all of scripture.  It only is used in reference to itself.  Peter elaborates some as to what that looks like in practice.


Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. -- 2 Peter 1:20-21

How do we know these men wrote down the things they experienced and heard correctly? Consider this verse in John:

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. -- John 14:26 

So all scripture, both what we consider to be Old and New Testaments were written by men under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit who enabled them to remember perfectly the things of which they wrote so that we might receive them precisely as God intended that we would.

As an aside, if the scriptures we read and learn from are not perfectly accurate in every way, then nothing we think we know about God, salvation, eternity, etc. can be believed with any level of legitimate hope.  The inspiration of the scriptures is the foundation upon which every other doctrine rests.


This is the explicit teaching of the bible as to its own infallibility.  In my next post I will look at the ways the bible teaches the doctrine of sola scriptura implicitly.


4/27/2010

The Five Solas

4/27/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , 1 comment
With all the furor (primarily raised between the camps of John Piper and N.T. Wright) raised recently over the doctrine of justification I decided to spend some time here examining the foundational elements of protestantism known as the five solas.  Here is how Wikipedia introduces the five solas in its article:

The Five solas are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solas articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice. All five of the "solas" implicitly reject or counter the then prevailing status quo, the Catholic Church, which had, in the various reformers' minds, usurped divine attributes or qualities for the church, its hierarchy, and especially, its head, the Pope.

So when I say "foundational elements of protestantism" I am not necessarily referring to what all branches of protestant churches would confirm today but to what the actual reformers believed were the most important issues of doctrine facing the church of their day.  They believed the Roman Catholic Church had perverted these doctrines and felt it was important enough to break away from the church to get back to biblical truth.

The five solas are:


  • Sola scriptura - by scripture alone
  • Sola fide - by faith alone
  • Solus Christus -  Christ alone
  • Sola gratia - by grace alone
  • Soli Deo gloria - glory to God alone




The plan is to take each of these principles, one at a time, examine them from a biblical standpoint.  Do they hold up as true?  If so, are they worth fighting for?  Are they really foundational elements of our faith?  If so, what do we do with those who do not hold to the same beliefs as those expressed in the solas?

I look forward to deepening my understanding of these doctrines and hope you will join me as I learn.

4/26/2010

At What Cost Unity?

4/26/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , No comments
I read an article this morning from Christianity Today's online site concerning the recently held Together 4 the Gospel and Wheaton College's Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright conferences.  What makes these two conferences so news worthy is that, in essence, they offer competing views of the essential doctrine of justification.

On the one side is Together 4 the Gospel and its constituents who uphold the traditional view of justification.  That is that, as followers of Christ, we are justified before God because and only because Jesus, having fulfilled every aspect of the law in His life, died in our place on the cross.  He absorbed the just wrath of God that was due us and, in its place, we have been credited with His righteousness.

On the other side is N.T. Wright and other proponents of the New Perspective on Paul.  Their belief is that both the Roman Catholic church and the Reformers, such as Martin Luther, have completely misunderstand the apostle Paul's writings when it comes to the doctrine of justification.  Their belief is that justification is not above how one is saved, it is about knowing who has been included in God's family.  Consider the following quote from N.T. Wright himself:

The doctrine of justification . . . is not merely a doctrine in which Catholic and Protestant might just be able to agree on, as a result of hard ecumenical endeavour. It is itself the ecumenical doctrine, the doctrine that rebukes all our petty and often culture-bound church groupings, and which declares that all who believe in Jesus belong together in the one family. . . . The doctrine of justification is in fact the greatecumenical doctrine" (What St. Paul Really Said [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997], 158)  

 So, according to Wright, justification is not so much a doctrine of soteriology but one of ecumincalism or ecclesiology.  The point of justification moves away from sinners being saved from deserved condemnation and towards declaring "that all who believe in Jesus belong together in the one family".

Having set the background, let us now consider Wright's statement made at the Wheaton College conference when asked about the schism between those upholding his view and those upholding the traditional view of justification.  When asked about the schism, his response was, "Nothing justifies schism."  Is Wright correct, or are there times when a schism is justified?

Scripture seems pretty clear on this issue.  Paul himself in his calls to the church to be unified calls for that unity to be based on "the same mind and the same judgment" (1 Corinthians 1:10 and Philippians 2:2).  Paul understood that unity must be based first and foremost on the truth of the gospel.  Where there in not agreement on the gospel, there cannot be unity.  Unity can not and must not come at the cost of the gospel.

In essence, Wright has decided that unity is more important than truth.  He has reinterpreted one of the main tenants of the gospel message to fit his own agenda and his own ideas of what are and should be important.  Paul said anyone preaching a different gospel than the one he preached should be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9). Wright is very much in danger of crossing a line better left uncrossed.

You can read another (and most likely better) write up of this topic at the Pyromaniacs blog.

Truth: Sell It or Tell It?

4/26/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , No comments
Donald Miller posted this on his blog a few days ago.  The post began with the idea of what a book about God and the church would look like if written by evangelical leaders today.  His conclusion, which I am afraid I probably agree with, is that the book would look very little like bible.

Why is that?  Why do so many people feel like they need to make apologies for the gospel?

Is it exclusive? Yes.

Is is offensive to some? Yes.

Yet, in spite of these things (or maybe even because of them) the gospel remains the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). So why do we feel the need to dress it up and make it appear to be something it is not?  Because, deep down in our hearts where we try not to dwell for long if at all, we don't trust God to save people His way.  We don't really believe that He will save people if we just faithfully proclaim what He has determined to be full of salvific power.

At the end of the day, we just don't have faith in our God.

God help us to have faith in You and Your gospel to accomplish what You desire for Your kingdom.

4/21/2010

Biblical Worldview

4/21/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , No comments



I am in the middle of teaching a class on worldviews at church right now on Sunday evenings.  This week, in preparation for the class I ran across some startling statistics concerning Americans who hold to a biblical worldview.
The Barna Group conducted a survey in 1995 and again in 2009 to determine what percent of the American population holds to a biblical worldview.

A biblical worldview was defined as believing that:



  1. Absolute moral truths exist
  2. That such truth is defined by the Bible
  3. That Jesus Christ lived a sinless life
  4. God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He stills rules it today
  5. Salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned
  6. Satan is real
  7. A Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people
  8. The Bible is accurate in all of its teachings
I don't think that any of the above criteria even come close to falling in the controversial range of theology. As a matter of fact, I would think that these 8 statements consist of the minimum you must believe in order to be a follower of Christ. While I can't really say I was totally surprised at the results of the survey, I was slightly dismayed. What I found most disappointing is the obvious lack of progress the church has made over the course of the last 14 years in this area.

People who have a biblical worldview:

1995: 7%

2009: 9%



Professing born again Christians who have a biblical worldview:

1995: 18%

2009: 19%



I think it is no real surprise that less than 10% of the general population has a biblical worldview. It is tragic, however, that less than 1 in 5 professing Christians meet the criteria for holding a biblical worldview. What is equally as tragic is that number has not changed significantly in 14 years. That means that people are moving through our churches as a whole without being taught what a biblical worldview is and why it is important. Over the course of the next week or so I plan to take a look at these numbers as well as some of the other results of the Barna survey to try to make some sense of why they are what they are and what that means for the church today.



One thing is patently obvious: It is time to boldly, clearly proclaim the gospel of the bible to our people without apology and without hesitancy.
 

4/20/2010

Questions Part 6: Discipleship

4/20/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , , No comments
I am taking some time to write about a series of questions for pastors that Timmy Brister posted on his blog.  You can find the full list here.  There are 21 questions and I plan to write about the 6 that I have highlighted on the list I printed out and hung on my office wall.  This is the 6th and final question I plan to look at.


If being a church plant is comprised of disciple-making disciples, then how are we doing?

I think one can make a very convincing argument based on biblical texts concerning the church and biblical texts concerning believers in general that the very purpose of the/a church is to make disciple-making disciples.  I also think that one can make a very convincing argument that if this is taking place, if we are making disciples, then we will find the answers to the previous questions in this series much more to our liking.

I think the answer to this question and the way we go about trying to achieve this objective both tell a great deal about our churches.  I think there are a few things that must hold true for a church to legitimately call itself a disciple making church.

1. The primary focus of the church must be disciple making.  

I know this seems self evident, but just saying your church desires to make disciples does not mean your programming and priorities actually lead in that direction.  Your Sunday morning services must be geared towards believers, not designed to attract lost people.  The seeker sensitive model of church will not make disciples.

2.  All of your staff must be on board with this being the most important task of the church.

The message of discipleship must begin at the pulpit and must permeate all the way down to the nursery.  Everyone needs to be preaching the message of growing up into the fullness of Christ.

3. You must teach doctrine to your people.

As much as we resist the idea sometimes, there can be no growth where there is not increase in our knowledge of who God has revealed Himself to be.  Theology is important.

If you do not listen to theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones — bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novel ties to-day are simply the ones which real Theologians tried cen turies ago and rejected. --  C.S. Lewis

There is no such thing as a Christian without theology.  The only question is whether your theology is correct or incorrect.  Do you really know God or not?  Only with a right understanding of God can we make disciples of God.

If the above three things are not happening, then I don't think your church is really making disciples of Christ.  You are making disciples certainly, since we reproduce what we are, but not disciples of Christ.  There are different methods one can go about the process of discipleship, from very structured to very laid back, from groups to individual (although I think at some point one of one contact becomes necessary).  But if we want our churches to be know as disciple making churches that plant disciple making churches, we must be about at least the three items above.

How is your church doing?


4/19/2010

Good Friends and the Gospel

4/19/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , No comments
One thing I have been thinking about these past few days is what exactly makes the difference between an acquaintance or a friend and a really close, good friend?  I have many people in my life who I would consider friends.  I would go to a ball game with them or go out to eat with them.  I invite their kids to my kids' birthday parties.  There are fewer people in my life who make the cut to the next level of friendship.  These few people are my closest friends and outside of my family, the people I most treasure on this earth.  I know that I can let down my guard around these friends because they know me and I know them.  Chances are the real, unguarded me won't offend them, and if it does I know they will forgive easily.  I trust these people with my kids and that is an area I am very slow to trust in.

What makes a close friend?  What is the difference between someone who you hang out with and someone who you would trust with your life or your family?  The answer, at least in my mind, is the gospel.  In short, the more you agree on the particulars of and the importance of the gospel with someone, the greater the chance that intimate friendship will develop.  Intimacy in relationships occurs when there is agreement on the deepest things in life.  To the believer, there is nothing deeper than the gospel.

Consider these verses:

 I appeal to you, brothers,  by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. -- 1 Corinthians 1:10

 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. --  Philippians 2:1-3

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, --  Ephesians 4:11-13

In each of these verses Paul is calling for believers to be unified.  The unity is of a specific nature, however.  We are called to be united withe the same mind and judgment, the same spirit and purpose, and in the knowledge of Christ.  Unless we are unified on the nature and calling of the gospel, then there can never be true unity between believers.  Where that unity exists, however, biblical fellowship occurs.  There is no worldly substitute for the joys of biblical fellowship with other believers.

Unfortunately not every believer experiences true biblical fellowship to the extent they could.  I believe there are a couple of primary reasons for this.  The first is that too many professing Christians do not have an adequate understanding of the gospel.  They do not understand the magnitude of what took place on the cross.  Lacking that understanding, they are incapable of giving God the worship and glory He is due for their salvation.

The second reason biblical fellowship is lacking in many believers lives is they are too quick to seek fellowship from people who do not share the depth of their commitment to the gospel.  We recognize our need for community and fellowship but are often impatient in waiting for God to bring people into our lives who we have true unity in mind and judgment with.  In our impatience we seek fellowship from anyone who seems to like or appreciate us or who has interests in common with us.  In doing so we sacrifice biblical fellowship for worldly friendship which by nature cannot satisfy.

I can count the people in my life who I experience true biblical fellowship with on my two hands.  I have learned that it can be difficult to find those true friends and to hold onto them dearly when I do find them.

What about your friendships?  Are they based on common interests only?  Or are they rooted and founded in the gospel of Christ?

4/12/2010

Lessons from The Father to a father

4/12/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , No comments
I had a bit of a scary moment yesterday afternoon.  The lot our house sits on is half surrounded by water.  There is a creek that runs along the back edge of the property and a drainage ditch on one side that runs into the creek.  The drop off into the drainage ditch is a good 5 or 6 feet and we do not have a fence around or front or back yard.  I have 4 kids, the youngest of whom is an 18 month old little girl.

That is a long way down for an 18 month old
You can probably see where this is headed.

Most of the family was resting after church yesterday afternoon so I took our youngest outside with me to play while I raked up some leaves in the back yard.  I had to wheel the leaves around to the front to be picked up Monday and I didn't want to leave Maddie Rose in the back yard alone.  I called to her and she followed me around to the front and watched while I dumped the leaves out by the road.  I called to her again and she began to follow me back around the house to the back yard.  I kept my eyes on her, knowing that we were on the side of the house with the drainage ditch.  I turned to check the path in front of me and almost immediately heard a sound very much like feet slipping on dirt and then a soft cry from Maddie Rose.  I turned around to see her sitting about 6 inches down the rather steep slope of the drainage ditch with her legs hanging over the edge.  I dropped the yard waste can and sprinted to her.  I picked her up and looked down into the mostly dry drainage ditch, making sure that she was ok.  My mind couldn't help but envision what very nearly took place: Maddie Rose falling to the bottom of the ditch and landing in the water.

I don't know if she wandered too close to the ditch accidentally or if she went over to see what was over there and then just got too close to the edge.  What I do know is she very nearly got herself into a situation that ended in her being hurt, perhaps seriously.  If I hadn't been nearby, she would have undoubtedly fallen as she tried to get back up.  Fortunately for her, I was nearby and it was no problem for me to pluck her up and safely remove her from harms way.

As I sat inside, with my daughter safely playing next to me, I couldn't help but think of the times my heavenly Father has kept me from danger as I unknowingly blundered straight towards it.  We are, I believe, much more like 18 month old children than we would like to admit.  Whether it is accidentally getting too close to a person or situation because we are completely unaware of the danger involved or whether it is getting too close because we want a little better look even though we know there might be danger involved, we often find ourselves quickly in over our heads and in need of rescue from our own ignorance.

And how often is our heavenly Father right there to pick us up when we fall, brush us off, and take us to safety again, knowing that the next time we are just as likely to wander away into danger again.

The best way to keep my daughter safe is to teach her what danger is and where it can be found.  Until she learns those things, I will keep a close eye on her in hopes that when she does wander away, I will be there to prevent the worst of the damage.  So our Father does for us.  He teaches us and protects us while we are learning.

I know that my heart skipped a few beats as I looked back and saw my daughter sitting so close to what could have been real trouble.  Because I love her, I rushed to prevent her from being hurt any more than she was.

How much more does our Father love us?  Rushing to rescue us time and time again as we disregard His warnings and His teachings because He loves us, has redeemed us, and calls us His children.

4/07/2010

Questions Part 5: Spiritual Gifts

4/07/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , No comments
I am taking some time to write about a series of questions for pastors that Timmy Brister posted on his blog.  You can find the full list here.  There are 21 questions and I plan to write about the 6 that I have highlighted on the list I printed out and hung on my office wall.  This is the 4th of 6 questions I plan to look at.


How many people know and are discharging their spiritual gifts in active service and building up of the body of Christ?

There are two areas to examine in light of this question. The first is do the people in our church know their spiritual gifts and the second is are they using those gifts.  I think in general we do a better job of education people as to what their gifts are than we do getting them to use those gifts.  It doesn't take a great deal of work to go to a website and take a relatively quick test to find out what your gifts are.  My church website directs people to a test created by ChurchGrowth.org.  The online test can be found here.  People can be convinced fairly easily to take a 5 minute test to find their spiritual gifts.  Of course, that is only the first half of the question, and the easier half by far.


The second issue is getting people, once they know their gifts, to actively use them to build up the church.  This requires a bit of work on the part of leadership to create an environment that expects and encourages people to serve using their gifts.


The message must be broadcast from the pulpit that one of the expectations and requirements of membership is that one will discover and use their spiritual gifts to serve their brothers and sisters in the church.  Any membership classes must also teach the same principle.  Their must be a structure in place that makes it simple for people looking to serve to find where their gifts are needed.  There must also be a system that allows leadership to hold accountable those who have agreed to serve to actually find their niche and get to work.  A system like this can become legalistic without a great deal of prayer, humility, and genuine love for people on the part of leadership but is necessary if we want to help people in their efforts to be a part of building up the body of Christ.  Everyone in the church should be involved in the work of building the church to some degree.  There should be no church member couch potatoes.  It is our job as leaders to equip, encourage, and teach our people to get up, get educated, and get to work.


Update: Desiring God has posted an article about spiritual gifts on their website.  You can read it here.

4/06/2010

Questions Part 4: Reaching Our Cities With the Gospel

4/06/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , , No comments
I am taking some time to write about a series of questions for pastors that Timmy Brister posted on his blog.  You can find the full list here.  There are 21 questions and I plan to write about the 6 that I have highlighted on the list I printed out and hung on my office wall.  This is the 4th of 6 questions I plan to look at.


What will it take to reach those in our city who are far from God and have no access to the gospel?


In order for the church to fulfill the great commission, we must be able to reach people with the gospel.  Quite simply, to have any chance of reaching everyone in our cities our churches need to become much better at discipleship than we currently are.  


No amount of programming is going to be adequate for this task.  No amount of creativity in our Sunday services  is going to be adequate for this task.  We need an army of well equipped saints who will take the gospel into and throughout our cities as they go.  As church leaders, our job is to equip the army.  If we do this well, if we are able to equip our people and they go out and spread the gospel and if God enlivens the dead hearts of the lost as we pray He would, then we will eventually run out of room in our church.  Part of our equipping should be raising up leaders who can plant new churches to join with us in raising up the army of the saints.


I think one of the pitfalls that we run into in our pursuit of the lost is that we lose focus on our greatest asset in reaching the lost.  The believers who already attend our churches are our greatest asset in reaching our cities.  In order to be a truly effective evangelistic church, we must become truly effective disciple making churches.  We cannot allow our people to just bring lost people to us and think that their jobs are done.  Scripture commands us all to be Christ's ambassadors and witnesses.  It is our job to make sure that our people know this and are equipped to do it.


Ultimately, reaching the lost and unchurched in our cities is too big a task for one local body to accomplish.  It will take churches cooperating with one another to really see this happen.  I hope and pray to see these things occur here in Rome, Georgia.


4/05/2010

Now What?

4/05/2010 Posted by Sheldon Clowdus , No comments
Easter has come and gone again.  No more egg hunts, easter bunnies, or Cadbury creme eggs until this time next year. If your church is like most churches, you probably had your biggest weekend in terms of attendance (at least until next Easter, anyway).  Probably (and certainly hopefully) some of those attendees have decided to give up the ways of the world and follow Jesus.  I join you in rejoicing and thanking God for every soul who was saved this past weekend.  The question I have is, "Now what?".

What do we do with all these new followers of Jesus?  Do we have a plan for them?  Do we have a system in place that will teach them what it means to follow Christ and how to equip themselves to go back to their worlds as a new creation?

Too often we celebrate the conversion of sinners into saints without a good plan to help saints become mature disciples of Christ.  It is our responsibility to help those God uses us to save to become maturing, growing disciples.  They are our spiritual children.  Paul understood that.  He told the church at Corinth that He was their father through the gospel.

For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. --  1 Corinthians 4:15

 Paul typically remained for a season in cities where he planted churches in order to help create a structure and install leadership that would enable new converts to grow in Christ.  He knew to do otherwise would be to shirk his duty to them as their spiritual father.

Hopefully, our churches have some new spiritual children today.  Do we have structures and leaders in place to help them grow, to help them learn how to pray, to help them learn to study their bibles?

If not, maybe that should top our to do list today.