Today the programs of local churches range from Religious Night Clubs, to Support Groups for the immoral and criminally deranged, to Political Action Groups, and just about every other shade of so called ministry. I do not the question the right of a group of religious people, or even Believers to develop different types of ministries and community outreaches. I’m relatively sure that most to some, or at least a few have social benefit. I would be the last (or at least close to the last) person to say they do not have a right to exist. Their right to exist is between them, God and the government. The bigger questions are, does MBF have a right, a Biblical right to exist? Are the policies and programs of MBF Biblically sound? Are the goals and purpose of MBF in line with the directives for a local church set forth in the Bible?

There is a young fellow (about my age) that I often meet at the Health Club. He is a sincere Christian, who has a desire to reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ. As a matter of fact, he serves as a lay preacher, and speaks several times a month at the different church functions. This gentleman attends one of the larger Baptist churches in Austin. If I see him on Monday, he is sure to ask, “Was anyone saved in your services Sunday?” My stock answer is, “We don’t allow sinners to come to our church. We’re all perfect, not like that bunch of Baptists sinners!” We have our laugh and go on to other things. One day in our conversation, he mentioned a concern that very few churches have morning services which are evangelistic in nature. He went on to say that almost every service at his church was evangelistic, and he really appreciated that aspect.

So I asked him what he meant by evangelistic. His response was a sermon of hell fire and brimstone along with you must be born again. As we talked, I ask him what percent of his pastor’s sermons were scripture and/or explanation of that scripture. He was quick to tell me that all of his pastor’s sermons were solidly based on the Bible. I assured him that I in no way thought his pastor was a heretic. However, I would be interested to know just how much Scripture was incorporated in the text of the sermon itself. He agreed to take a verse count for the next few sermons and see how many verses were read or directly referred to in a sermon. I didn’t see this gentleman for a couple of weeks, and had somewhat forgotten about our conversation, but he hadn’t. In the first message after our conversation the pastor read four verses and referred to two others. In the second sermon, the pastor used eight verses. My health-club-buddy had listened well. He knew what verses were used, and he gave me a recap of the messages. Not bad for a old guy!

From what this fellow told me of the messages, I would say the pastor did a good job, and presented the call to salvation in a very convincing manner. I told my friend that I would give his pastor at least a B+ on the messages, but I also stated that I was confused, because he had told me that the sermons were evangelistic. To which he responded, “Those sermons were ‘Ye must be born again’ all the way. I don’t know how you could call them anything else but evangelistic?” Then I pointed him to Romans 10:17.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

If evangelism is what we are looking for in our church services, and we know that faith must come by hearing the Word of God, then it would seem that the more of the Word of God a message contained, the more evangelistic the message would be.

It is so easy to superimpose a wrong definition on a term. Then use that improper and confused term as the so called standard by which to measure the rightness or wrongness of an action. It is also easy to compare our actions, as a church, to the actions of some other church, instead of using the Word of God to compare and define our actions.

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

Many of the standards held as proper for the church today have come by observing the actions of the churches of yesteryear. Even many definitions of church experiences and functions have been derived from observing what churches of the past have experienced, and the terms they applied to those experiences. For example. About 100 years ago or so, the church experienced special services characterized by powerful, emotional and dramatic speaking in which many turned to God. These speakers became known as evangelists. So these meeting were evangelistic? Therefore, it is concluded that if evangelism (whatever that is) is one of the missions of the church, then our services must resemble the services of the past.

One problem! That is not what evangelize or evangelistic means.

evangelist = (Greek) A messenger (proclamer or angel) of good.

Evangelist is made of up of two words in the Greek. Eu & angelistes (eu, well, angelos, a messenger). This Greek word is used only three times in the New Testament.

Acts 21:8 On the next day we who were Paul's companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Notice in Ephesians 4:11 the evangelists were for the benefit of the saints, not for the saving of the souls of those outside the Body of Christ.

2 Timothy 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Never does Scripture state that the proclamation of the Gospel to the unsaved is the only or even the main mission of the church. It is certainly a mission of the church, as we will see later. The proclamation of the Gospel to the unsaved is certainly a neglected mission of the church along with the rest of the church’s mission.

It will be our goal, in this series, to find Biblical standards by which to compare and measure our church’s policies and programs. We can learn a great deal through observation of others as to technique, presentation, methods, etc. However, others and what they do, or have done should not be the standard for what MBF does, our goals, purpose, etc. The only standard by which we should compare our church (or any church) is the clear revealed Word of God.

The church is different than any other alliance known to man. Any other alliance of man’s making is an organization, at best, founded and motivated by human effort. The church is an organism that should be orderly in function, which was founded by Christ, and its motivation is from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Every function of the church should be for the edification of Believers within the local church and/or the church universal.
Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
edifying = (Greek) administration of a household through teaching, laws and principles.
edify = (Greek) architecture i.e. structure or edifice; to be a house builder. denotes the act of building or constructing according to a plan.

Over and over again, in this portion and elsewhere, Paul says and demonstrates that the major effort of the Church, both local and universal, is the edification or building up of saints according to the plan or blue print of God. All actions of the church should be so that the household of God is properly administered, and so this edifice of God’s dwelling is built according to the plan laid down in the Word of God.

As a matter of fact, every action of each Believer should be given the Edification Test.

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but all things do not edify.

Even though an action is not morally wrong, and even though I have the right to be involved in that action, my action and intentions are wrong if not motivated and controlled by the purpose of edifying. You know, if that were our rule of life, it would make a big difference in what I say and do, when I say and do, and the way I say and do. We have learned before, that if our motive is not right, then the actions are wrong, even if those actions were good actions, or even if those actions were commanded by God. This is true on a personal level and a collective or church level. We could look at passage after passage which supports this fact. I know we have looked at Isaiah many times before, but let’s just refresh our memory once again by turning to it.

Isaiah 1:11-15 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. 12 "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? 13 Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. 14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood.

One of the key phrases in this passage, and in the whole of Isaiah is found in v.11 “what purpose”. “To what purpose” are your sacrifices? To “what purpose” are your offerings? To “what purpose” are your sabbaths? To “what purpose” are your meetings? To “what purpose” are your feasts?

Purpose or motive is all important in our personal actions, and our collective actions. Why are you here this morning? Why did you sing? Why did you give, or didn’t give to the offering? Why? Why did you say what you said? Why did you act as you did? The Holy Spirit, through Isaiah, summed up the why, or motive of those in Isaiah’s time.

Isaiah 29:13 Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

It matters not how elaborate the building, how beautiful the song, how eloquent the message, if the motive was anything less than edification of the body, it is wrong, carnal and sinful. If any of these things or anything else is for self-glory or self-edification, we have removed our hearts from God. It is not a good idea for a Believer and/or a church to have their heart removed far from God.

I want us to pause in the lesson to do a little self-examination and hopefully correction where needed. The reason you are here, what you have said, your attitude, if they are less than the edification of the Body of Christ, let’s make adjustments and confessions where needed so as to bring our motive into line with God’s purpose and plan. Let’s bow in a time of silent prayer to God, and take care of whatever is needed between you and your Savior right now.

1 Corinthians 14:3-5 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
1 Corinthians 14:12-17 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

The Local Church should edify the Believers within it, in order to make each Believer the best they can be in the place of service to which God has placed them in the Body. There should not be competition between members to see who can be better spiritually in their acts of service. Nor should a Believer attempt, or covet the position and service of another Believer. We certainly should not try to imitate the ministry of others. We should allow the Holy Spirit to minister through our lives in His unique manner.

Matthew 20:20-28 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. 21 And He said to her, "What do you wish?" She said to Him, "Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom." 22 But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." 23 So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father." 24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

We need to notice that Christ, in this passage, makes reference to both aspects of His kingdom.

In passing, please note that in any kingdom when some do things for self-edification instead of for the whole body, it causes others to be “moved with indignation”. I’m sure you can carry that application further for your own benefit.

What we really need to see for this lesson is found in vv. 25-28. Christ uses this incident to teach a truth concerning the coming Church or the mystery form of the kingdom. The disciples did not know Christ was talking about the church, until after the resurrection. Their minds were fixed on the earthly kingdom. Christ stated to His disciples that the world’s system has a form and manner of governing the activities that are under their rulership. Christ is not condoning or condemning the action of the Gentiles rulers in this passage. The purpose of this teaching time was not to show the fault of human government, but to show that there is a big difference between human governments and organizations, and divine government of the church. As a matter of fact, the governing of the church is to be so different that the world’s way is not even to be among or a part of governing the church. It is absolutely necessary for us to guard against being conformed to the worldly system, as we administer this spiritual system, the Church.

Romans 12:1-13I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

That would make for a pretty good local church!

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998