Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Need Preachers, Teachers, and the Local Church

“The Bible says I don’t need anyone man to teach me. I can learn the Bible on my own. I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” I hear those words in various forms frequently from people, mostly those who are not willing to listen to the counsel or advice from someone else, those who have been hurt by someone in church and therefore refuse to go again, or from those who just simply are not up on the idea of committing themselves to the local church on a consistent basis. Usually, they will make reference to 1 John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” The problem is they usually do not quote all of the verse as it is written nor do they use it in the context in which John wrote it.

False teachers were a problem in John’s day as they elevated their teachings above those of Christ and Scripture. They arrogantly thought they alone possessed a special and secret anointing – a divine knowledge that no one else was privy to. John’s response to the church and rebuttal to these false teachers comes in 1 John 2 declaring that all believers in Christ had an anointing from the Lord. Believers could have personal understanding from the Lord because they are in Him (2 Corinthians 4:6). Colossians 2:3 says this about Jesus, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Believers do have the Holy Spirit living inside them, giving them insight, wisdom, revelation, and truth through Scripture (John 14:26, 16:13, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10). While this is true, it does not mean that people do not need teachers and preachers or that they can live the Christian life apart from the local church.

John was reminding these believers to recognize erroneous teachings and to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord (1 John 2:20-21; Corinthians 2:10-16). After all, Jesus was the truth and believers should recognize when people are teaching them wrongly (John 14:6; Acts 4:12, Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 1:9-11). John was not saying that believers did not have to attend church or learn from pastors and teachers. Yes, God’s truth is all-sufficient (Psalm 19:7-14; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) and free from error. As the end of 1 John 2:27 says, His anointing “teaches about all things, and is true and is not a lie.”

John was not saying that believers did not need teachers or the church. They did not need false teachers so they should discern the truth already given to them. The Lord has given the church pastors, elders, and teachers, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12:28). For John to write that believers did not need the church or teachers would be contradictory to all of Scripture (Hebrews 10:24-25, 2 Timothy 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Acts 2:41-47; Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 1:21-24; Romans 10:14-17). Study the Word for yourself while you grow in a local church that preaches and teaches Scripture. Then you’ll be on your way to growing in Christ in a Biblical manner.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Managing Chaos

"Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2).  If this were not Scripture, I don't think I'd believe it.  I mean who, in their right mind, considers the endurance of trials pure joy?  Well, that's the catch - it is not our mindset we should have (one of self, flesh, pleasure, etc.) but His (Philippians 2:5).

There is a raging river of chaos all around us.  We are surrounded in our raft of ministry and life by rapids, rocks, and dangers that want to "flip our boat and drown us."  What do we do?

1.  You can turn in your raft and paddles and call it quits.
2.  You can learn to guide yourself through the rapids and attempt to avoid the obstacles as best as you can.
3.  You can build a dam.

Since quitting for most of us is not an option because we know to Whom and what we are called, we attempt number two.  While option two works, it leaves us constantly fighting the rapids.  We must learn to build dams to set boundaries on the chaos.

Here is a "dam":  Ministry is joy-filled but has some trouble spots.  Count on it.  Someone who says they don't have any trouble in ministry are not in the ministry.  Jesus said, "in this world you will have trouble."  But He didn't leave it there - "Take heart!  I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)  Instead of expecting zero trouble in this life why not know that there will be some trouble but majority peace.  After all, Jesus said he wanted to offer us peace in the previous verse.  He works all thing together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).  So those few issues you are facing shouldn't surprise you when they happen.  What you should be looking to is the Father, not the problem.  Fix your eyes on Him (Hebrews 12:2).

Another dam is leaning and trusting in God's Word.  Don't let troubles talk you out of God's Word!  Another dam you must build to battle the raging rapids is know God is for you and not against you (Romans 8:31).  Other dams you must build to settle the rapids and bring peace is knowing who you are in Christ, walking in the Spirit, walking worthy of your calling, and being prayed up.  It may be tough now but hold on, don't give up.  Don't quit because 5% or 25% of your ministry is trying.  Think about all the good, all the blessings, all the riches you have.  Don't let a temporary problem cause you to make a wrong long-term decision.

I want to encourage you - do not quit when things get tough.  Stick in there.  Believe in God.  "Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest - IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP" (Galatians 6:9).  Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith, and a crown of righteousness will be in store for you and to all who do the same (2 Timothy 4:8).  Ron Kenoly sang a song that told us to go ahead and don't stop.  The lyrics said, "If you catch hell don't hold it.  If you're going through hell don't stop.  Remember no weapon formed against you shall prosper and every tongue that rises against you, you shall condemn.  Lean on this because greater is He that is in you than he that it is in the world."