Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sanctification By Obedience To The Pastor?

     When was the last time you attended a preacher's meeting and heard a sermon on the subject of sanctification? I am not referring to that word so much as that issue. Most of the preacher's meetings I used to go to emphasized soul winning, the King James Bible, or soul winning and the King James Bible. I don't go to many preacher's meetings these days. Not because I don't enjoy good preaching. I love good preaching. But there is very little good preaching being delivered at most preacher's meetings these days, at least the ones I stopped attending.
     I have little patience for a young guy haranguing me about soul winning and the King James Bible who is confused about the one and ignorant about the other, thinking the Bible versions issue is something of recent origin instead of an issue that originated in the Italian and French Alps more than a thousand years ago. For anyone who still thinks soul winning can be reduced to persuading someone to repeat the words of a prayer I commend Decisional Regeneration vs. Divine Regeneration by James E. Adams, published by Solid Ground Christian Books.
     That which seems most rare in preacher's meetings these days is preaching on issues related to sanctification. Where are you on the doctrines related to the spiritual growth and development of believers, preacher? Do you subscribe to Thomas Aquinas' proposition that the Law of Moses is vital to Christian growth and maturity? Or do you favor what is referred to by some as New Covenant Theology, whose chief spokesman is the British writer and preacher David H. J. Gay, a personal friend of mine? On reflection, I seem to recall that a number of my IFB friends eschew the Law of Moses as useful to sanctification, while most others are unfamiliar with NCT.
     In the Churches I am familiar with here in SoCal there have always been a number of Baptist Churches with a very interesting approach to Christian sanctification, seeing Christian growth and maturity, as well as spirituality, being very specifically compliance with the desires and demands of the pastor. That is, the standard of spirituality is not seen by many IFBs as yieldedness to some moral aspect of the Law of Moses, or even conscience compliance with the leading of the Holy Spirit and Scripture, but the expressed will and demands of the pastor.
     What do you think? Am I wrong? Is unity of the Spirit a oneness of mind and spirit around the dictates of God's Word and the expressed will of the Spirit of God? Or is it reduced to the commands and demands of the pastor? What would Spurgeon's position have been on this issue? Or Carey's? Or Judson's? Or Paul's?
     I would appreciate your response to my musings on this matter.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Your Right Task, Your Wrong Tendency


Our goal, our job, our responsibility, our task as Church congregations, is to make disciples. Making disciples is not an optional assignment but has been given to us by the One Who has all power in heaven and earth. And when He issued this assignment He did not suggest that we make disciples. Neither did He ask us to make disciples. This task was issued in the form of an imperative. We have been ordered to make disciples. You and I as members of Churches have been commanded to make disciples.
Implicit in our Lord’s Great Commission is resistance to the completion of our assignment. After all, the Lord Jesus did tell us “go ye therefore,” did He not? And why did He direct us to go forth to make disciples? Because of man’s sinful nature, his inherent depravity means that men would not come seeking to be made disciples. Rather, mankind’s essential nature results in avoiding and hiding and escaping from the Church’s efforts to make disciples of them. So, you can mark it down that those who are not disciples of Jesus Christ will not want you to involve yourself in making them or anyone else disciples of Jesus Christ. Left up to them, they would be delighted if you left them to their sins so they can go to Hell in hand baskets. It is not so unusual to see them also wanting to preoccupy you so that you have little time to reach anyone else besides. As well, there will always be those who pose as Christians who, too, will greatly resist engaging in the making of disciples. Despite their profession, they will so demonstrate their unwillingness by their refusal to be a disciple who in turn is engaged in making disciples, that they are very willing to leave the lost to their own devices. It should terrify you to come to the stark realization that you know a Christian who simply refuses to act like a disciple of Jesus Christ, and who is perfectly willing to do whatever he or she can get away with to avoid participating in efforts to make disciples of the Savior.
Our task as a Church is to make disciples, against the opposition of all nations. Thus, the scope of our Great Commission is worldwide and diverse, extending to every nation, tongue, and tribe. There is no one who does not need our Church’s ministry. There is no one who does not need our Church’s message. There is no one who is so well off that he does not need to be improved by becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Your Church, then, in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission our Lord Jesus Christ gave to like congregations, will find herself comprised of every sort of person, as God blesses your efforts and as you see disciples of Jesus Christ being made. It is reasonable to expect that your greatest success will be among people who are like you. It is unreasonable to expect that your success will be limited to people who are like you. Indeed, if you do not remain an ethnically mixed group of disciples, and succeed in some measure in penetrating each ethnic group that lives within traveling distance of your place of assembly, then you are disobedient to your Lord and Master’s Commission. This is your right task.


A term that has gained popularity over the last few decades is “mission drift.” “Mission drift” is the tendency for organizations of every kind to deviate from the purposes for which they were established.[1] Churches, which are in some respects like other organizations, are very susceptible to “mission drift.” Our mission, which was given to us almost 2000 years ago, is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. But what has happened in the intervening 2000 years that can be ascribed to “mission drift”? Churches of all stripes and persuasions have run so far down rabbit trails that it seems they exist for anything but making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Even among Churches most like your own, there are the terrible fruits of “mission drift.” How else can you explain ministries that have resorted to counting the number of “souls saved” each year, or the number of “baptisms” each year, or the number of members who have “joined” that year, or the total number of “members,” or the total number of “decisions” at special meetings? Such efforts to measure a Church’s success by tabulating numbers cannot only give evidence that “mission drift” has occurred in a Church but can cause “mission drift” to occur.
Churches and pastors need to be extremely careful of “mission drift.” As well, we need to keep in mind that Charles G. Finney’s efforts to subvert orthodox ministries succeeded, in a great measure, by his use of numbers and statistics to “show” that his methods were superior to those he was supplanting. And if we are not careful, a pastor who finds greater numerical success in one area of ministry will tend to focus on that area in which he enjoys apparent success leading him off in a direction that will result in “mission drift.”
Thus, a pastor and Church can focus on stewardship more than making disciples, or can focus on decisions more than making disciples, or can focus on attendance goals more than making disciples, or can focus on professions of faith more than making disciples, or can even focus on seeking to reach certain ethnic groups to the exclusion of others instead of making disciples. But remember, what the Lord Jesus Christ told us to do is make disciples, something that’s much harder to track statistically than baptisms and professions and new members or attendance.