Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Responses that seem to be alluding so many believers in otherwise good churches.

Dr. Marc S. Blackwell, Sr. 

(Cape Town)

1: How can my Local church best serve Christ?  Discussing the Place (or Role) of Togetherness.

  • How were the First Century Teams formed and focused on the work before them?    
                        We might want to consider if our Bible-believing congregation shouldn't take the time to enter into an open discussion of the importance of their own togetherness. Possibly the pastor could lead a series of 'Small Group Home Bible Studies" to better engage his congregation in considering these truths and their importance for the health and well-being of the body of Christ in his care as their under-shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4) 

The sense of togetherness among the early Christians and among the Apostles, Evangelists, Deacons and other congregational individuals and families can be easily recognised by observing a few key words or phrases (see the bold sections below.)

We might want to discuss how we as 21st Century churches could best apply or put this spirit of strategic cooperation and 'non-formal' organisation into action. Considering or recognising the role of the women, especially the more mature spiritual women and "whatever business" these godly ladies could be doing to aid and encourage the congregation or might could do to evangelise other women, youth or children. Often our churches can be so focused on the "personality" or leadership style of a pastor or of his unique preaching style that we fail to understand the importance of the many "fellow workers" - couples, individuals and teams - that literally bring a congregation to life (See later Ephesians 4:10-16). 

To show or communicate our genuine public thankfulness for every Christian's service is so very important to the consistent health of any church. The unique role of the early converts (the first fruits) is often overlooked and the vital place of evangelism [do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry2 Tim 4:1-5]  ... can be overlooked or left for periodic rather than on-going attention. 
(Romans 16:1–6) "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 2 that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. 5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. 6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us. 
  • How do we guide individuals & our congregation toward Biblical paradigms of self-less service?           
We might want to discuss how we can best guide our congregation to see the importance of service to their own spiritual growth. The selflessness of Christ is not an academic matter to be believed but rather a practical commitment to others in Christ. (See: 1 John 1:6-7 and 2 Corinthians 8:1-9) The selflessness of Christ (Philippians 2:1-8) is an imperative for the sincere Christian and the Christ-like congregation. 1 John 2: 3 "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." nkjv
(Romans 16:7-16) Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you. 
 We might want to discuss some negative realities that can also guide us away from selfish dangers. It is hard, genuinely hard, for sincere and younger believers to understand the dangers related to gossip, those with "other agendas" and some with sins - not obvious or known or understood by the "novice" believer or rather should we say the new or less expereinced believer. 

Then to, the matter of "obedience" or submission ( Ephesians 5:15-21) the discussion should also turn to the meaning of Hebrews 13:5-7 & 17. We all recognize that our post-modern world struggles to get past its philosophic sense of personal rights and freedoms and this struggle has an effect on one's individual spiritual growth and in this way also directly impacts the marriage, family, congregation and society. The advice of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1-5 "Imitate me, just as (or to the degree that) I also imitate Christ. 2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the (i.e. true Truth of God's Inspired Word) traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." We, of course, live in societies that are filled with mistrust, mistrust toward the church in certain specific areas, the Bible, pastors, other authorities in our society and even in the marriage and the family. (Compare: 1 Timothy 5:1-22; Ephesians 5:22 to 6:4). The thought needs to be considered as to what lifestyles and choices 'open the doors' or lead us all to depend upon and look to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 16:17-20 "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. [Also see  Hebrews 13:17) Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." (nkjv)

    2: What can my Local Church do to better communicate to Christ’s glory: The importance of Honesty.

    • How can we best resolve the cross-cultural barriers between “expat” Missionaries and their congregations? 

    We might want to discuss the realities of working across cultural borders, traditions and communication "barriers" "...as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:" (1 Corinthians 16:1–2).nkjv  
    "I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem: (1 Corinthians 16:3) nkjv. 
    1 Corinthians 16:10 "And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time." (1 Corinthians 16:10–12).nkjv

    ADDICTED TO ....?

    13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love.
    15 I urge you, brethren—you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted (or addicted - kjv) themselves to the ministry of the saints—16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. 17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. (1 Corinthians 16:13–18). nkjv

    Any discussion around the acceptance of one another in ministry in the sense of being citizens of heaven rather than citizens of this or that culture, language or tradition depends on good will and commitment to "earn the respect" of one another through faithful and loving service to Christ, His Word and one another. At the same time the need to overcome our pride in regional interpretations, local politics and cultural lifestyles does not mean we have to give up all our cultural differences, but rather calls us to a respect for the good and wise and lovely in any and all cultures.

      Let all that you do be done with love.
    • How can our local churches reach-out to immigrants without losing our Irish or South-Irish church members? 

    We might want to discuss just how we can create a more mosaic, rainbow or multi-cultural church in keeping with the teaching of the New Testament regarding the church of Jesus Christ being "supra-cultural."  Since we believe that God created the whole world and that he "so loves the world that" - we must ask ourselves about our responsibilities and vision and care or concern for all those around us. Showing love to all no matter who they might be.


    For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles—2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

    8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

    14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

    3: Why should my Local Church equip Christians to serve? Seeing Service as Personal Acts of Worship. 

    • How can Biblical concepts of discipleship and spiritual growth be best communicated to younger believers? 
    We might want to discuss the common belief in 21st Century Christianity that we are to draw men to our churches and to the hearing of the Gospel by using the styles and means of the world around us rather than by means and methods that are focused on the Word of God and that reject the flesh and fashion of the world. I realize that I am in Ireland and I realize the blended music of the Getty Family, Townend and so many others is so very popular. To blend the world, the flesh and the devil might seem acceptable to immature or naive believers but those who are grounded in the Word of God should be able to discern these serious dangers to spiritual growth. 

    We might want to refocus our younger believers around the true Truth of God's Word rather than on the superficial emotional ideas so popular in much of the worship around us. We might want to take the time and find the opportunities to discuss the danger of "blended" music as a tool for promoting 'truth-starved" Ecumenicism, as a road to various compromises with the world's sensous ways and as something other than genuine commitment to the distinctiveness of a disciple of Christ... not of this world. (John 17:14-18)

    We face a super strong trend in society - a trend that treats music and culture as a-moral or above morality. If the words of a new Christian song seem acceptable or even good - this excuses the beat, the sensuous sounds and identification and obvious harmony of the music with the flesh and within the world system of things. Worship has been reduced to "praise" and "worship" then is identified with the public gathering, the collective experience and the emotional re-charge that results from the existential moment of inner peace, elation or happiness. But this subject deserves our attention - our further discussion and the fact that worship was and is "service" - doing not just singing, not just praying and even not just reading our Bibles but also a commitment to each other, one another and the action words (the verbs) of Christian living is essential. Consider 

    Galatians 6:10

     "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."nkjv

    Ephesians 2:10

     "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." nkjv

    Hebrews 13:20-21

    "Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." nkjv

    • How can we develop leadership amidst a backdrop of personality, character and culturally “dysfunctional”? 
    We might want to discuss our congregation's responsibility to offer sound Biblical leadership training to our teenagers, our Sunday School teachers, our Deacons and those interested in serving as evangelists, pastors or missionaries. The need to cooperate and prepare lessons and courses that are appropriate for the smaller and newer church planting situation is an important need. Working together  (within churches and between churches) to advance the Gospel among children and youth and through other opportunities is vital. ( 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-2; 14-16. ) Sharing in prayer and fellowship among those of "like mind, faith and practice" is something that is required if we are to guard the 'unity of the Spirit' in keeping with the truths of Ephesians 4:1-16.

    Modified from the Killorglin Leadership Conference, of Saturday, the 13th of February 2016

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