Welcome to Laodecia! The modern church has fallen into this pattern that many dispensationalists call the Ages of the Church, with this church considered the last of the ages. Jesus cuts to the quick as He challenges this church. As we look at this passage, think of the church in general. Your local church may be an incredible example of a New Testament body of believers, but, the way that culture is invading the church and its institutions, we may not be that far away Let’s take a look at this through the lenses of Scripture. Revelation 3:15-22 says:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will [b]spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” (NASB)

This part of the Letter is to the Church of Laodecia, a wealthy community in the area of modern day Turkey and Syria. Laodecia was a Roman province, but its position along a very profitable trade route made it very self sufficient. The city was known for three things, wealth, textiles, and a very popular eye salve that was sold all over the world. An earthquake devastated the region in AD 60, and the city refused imperial assistance to rebuild, relying on their own resources instead. The city did not have a great water supply, which made it a vulnerability in a siege, but it did have a water source in the form of a 6 mile aqueduct from Hierapolis. This was a hot spring, so the water would arrive in an unappetizing lukewarm state. This aqueduct could easily be captured in a siege and all water cut off to the city, so leaders in Laodecia would often facilitate enemy requests and compromise instead of raise arms and fight. This is the thrust of the entire letter that Jesus sent to them.

First, Jesus says that the church is lukewarm. The church would understand this reference through its water supply. Nothing tastes as good after a long hot day of work as sitting down and enjoying a wonderful, tall glass of lukewarm water…..mmmmm mmmmm. The issue with lukewarmness is that it is too cold to be hot and too hot to be cold. It negotiates between the two. Jesus knew that the spiritual life of the church was the same way. They were too complacent in their wealth to see how very poor they were. Jesus directs his disapproval toward the church by attacking the very things they valued. Wealth, clothing, and eye slave. A lukewarm Christian needs nothing from God. They have the reliability of their church, their church needs nothing, it has the finest of everything. They have settled into a place where the enemies of the church could shake up the popularity of the place and cause their numbers and tithes to collapse. They are satisfied with the strange doctrines that the culture demands in the church and allow the wolves in to decimate the sheep. Their complacent, lazy faith hides the depth of their poverty. Jesus tells them to buy from Him Gold refined in fire. Purity comes to mind when I hear fire and gold. Jesus wants their wealth to be gained in their purity before Him as a church. Not sexual purity, in context, but rather purity of heart and determination to either be hot or cold, not commingling in the middle. True wealth is not found in money, but in knowing we are poor before Christ and relying on his riches of mercy to forgive us and save us.

Jesus then calls on the church to buy from Him garments of pure white to wear. This is an unblemished garment. White represents absolute cleanliness. The shame of their nakedness can be covered by the pure righteousness of the Christ. Their sins of complacency and compromise could be covered. This is a beautiful picture of the sin covering of the blood of the cross. Christ was sacrificed and shed blood so that His purity and righteousness would save us from Gods wrath in judgement. Then Jesus appeals to them to use salve provided to them so their blindness could be removed. This is clever, to use a metaphor of a world famous product from the city to show the church how blind they have been. Oh, how our churches are so blinded by the concerts, the self help preaching, the lights, the smoke, and the shallow relationships we have. We have been blinded as a church trying to draw in the crowds and not training the believers to be disciple makers.

Jesus makes another plea to the church. Here, it is Jesus standing outside of door of the church. He is knocking and asking who IN THE CHURCH, will open the door and actually fellowship with Him. This is such a terribly sad picture. While the church is singing, and celebrating, and having great fellowship inside, Jesus stands outside knocking on the door. The church has walked so far away from Him that they do see that He is not in the church. Jesus finally says that those that overcome will sit with Him on His throne. Overcome what? The complacent Christian life, the kind of Christian that would stand and fight against the fact that the church is running without Jesus inside of it. The Christian that stood on the purity and the riches of Jesus rather than their own self reliance. The Christian that determines to be either a hot drink that warms the cold hearted, or a cold drink that provides relief in the driest of times. Jesus is looking for those that have the ears to hear His warnings and His exhortation.

If a Man does not work…..

This might sting a little.

I have been discussing the ideas of how the church should respond to poverty and the poor around us. Ultimately, the picture of poverty in America comes down to two pictures. The first is the gropu that have experienced a situation that stops them from being able to provide for themselves. This is called abject poverty. This is characterized by a form of disability that prevents working. The Scripture call them widows and orphans. The second group are in relative poverty; or the poverty that is set up by their choices. When someone has fallen ill or experienced a sickness that has them out of work recovering for a period of time, it often depletes their bank account or takes away their income from the family. A death of a spouse can leave the other in financial hardship and lead to a poverty out of their control. This is where the church is called into action to support and provide for that family. When a person that is capable of work, yet decides not to , there is a much different biblical response. This group will even include those receiving disability benefits for things like ADHD or depression, or other mental health issues and those that receive disability for a variety of other things. I said this might sting a little.

Let me clarify my stance with some real world examples. During the last 20 or more years of working with people in homelessness and poverty, I have seen almost every situation imaginable. The ones that always affected me the least (or at least broke my heart the least) were those that claimed they could not work because of a mental issue like anxiety or ADHD. While their issue had some social interaction issues, they could move from pllace to place, lifting furniture, setting up video game systems, plotting how they were going to get this service for free or that service from a charity. All of these that I saw were job skills that could lift them out of poverty. I even have a hard time with physical disabilities in a lot of cases when I see the people with Downs Syndrone or other debilitating issues working at McDonalds or WalMart and pouring their guts out to complete a task. A lot of the times, not every time, many of the people I have worked with have used the disability route to not have to work. Many were in the mindset that the government check was enough to be satisfied with as they sat at home and played video games and watched television. Many spent as much time going from charity to charity asking for rent assistance or food as they would have going to work and being able to pay for it by themselves.

Scriptural Insight

What does the Scripture say about this? Well, this is a bit of a change for me. 2 Thessolonians 3:10 gives instruction for the church to follow the Apostolic tradition and work for all they have. I had once looked at this as a misquoted passage concerning the nonworking. I looked at it as those waiting for the rapture that quit working and relied on the church to provide for them. It may have that implication, but, we are all awaiting the rapture, and when the early church was doing that, Paul was clear. It may have been a normal reaction to quit working if the rapture was so close, but the Apostle said that if a man does not work, he shall not eat. That perhaps noble intent would far outweigh the laziness or the stealing that those today that can work and will not live accordingly.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 says: For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. Paul does not stop there but brings the thought here much more clarity starting in verse 11: For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

The term busybodies and the words will not work in this passage has a unique idea in the Greek. The translation is “busybodies that do no business.” The non workers had an issue of sin in their lives by abusing the generosity of the Christians and getting themselves involved in the personal business of everyone else. They were commanded to earn their own bread to eat. The early DID provide for the truly needy in the church, but only after seeing that they truly were in dire need. John Calvin said it like this:
“Paul forbids the Thessalonians to encourage their laziness by indulging it, and teaches that it is those who proved themselves with the necessities of life by honourable and useful work that lead a life of holiness.” (Calvin) The church would put those that were not truly in need at work in the church so that the labor of their hands would produce personal witness and give them a sense of self that they were earning their bread. What a noble concept.

What is the application of this discussion?

  1. Not everyone that says they are needy are truly needy. I would guarantee that many, not all, that come to the church seeking assistance have been to other churches and agencies that day seeking the same assistance they sought out from yours.
  2. The early church gives us an example of how to deal with those capable of work and refusing to do it. Have them volunteer in the food pantry sorting shelves, or vacuuming the foyer, or doing something that is useful. Be sure to have them sign a waiver of liability because some will try to exploit the church with false injury.
  3. If they are unwilling to do anything, it is biblical and OK to turn them away. It does not violate Christian generosity to not help everyone that says they have a need. Good background discussions are necessary to determine if a person is using the church as another resource and stop during their day of “grocery getting.”
  4. Many know the language of Churchaneese. Many will seem to be so holy and church going that you will get fooled occasionally. Be wise and discerning. Learn to ask the right questions and watch body movements and facial expressions. A true person in need will be able to provide tangible insights into their circumstances. Those that are “running the gamut” will try to convince you that they are worse off than they are. Believe but verify everything.
  5. Sometimes, the person only needs to find descent work. Discuss the biblical principles of work and assist in helping them write a resume or updating the one they have. You will be surprised what skills they have that can be utilized in a variety of ways and what types of work are available with very little physical strains on them.
  6. The first food box is always given. Many will only need one if they are in a temporary difficulty. When a person returns, then you can get to the place of seeking deeper problems and stronger resolutions.
  7. Include the Gospel. The sole purpose of any ministry is to share the Gospel. Some have said a sinners prayer at every place they visit. Sometimes this is to minipulate people into giving, but everyone needs to be asked what they believe and taught the truth of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ


Martin Luther stated that “God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.” (Winger, Luther on Vocation 10)

I have been thinking and studying the reality of, what Luther called, The Doctrine of Vocation. I am not going to measure the merits of the doctrine in this article, but rather, we will look at the vitality of work as a part of the Christian life and experience. This will fall in line with our continuing series on the church’s’ response to the issues of poverty an their neighborhoods.

How does a person support themselves without work? The obvious answer is “They don’t, the government does.” or, as a Church Planter I stated in my last post that those that will not work and are capable are stealing from others. We have to be people that teach that God ordains us to work, not as a curse, because it was developed before the fall of man. Work is glorifying to God as it represents the skills and abilities he created the body to accomplish. It glorifies God for man to create, and to use his workplace to show the love of Jesus to other people. Too many in America are not working. They have a claimed disability or are in the application process. I am not saying that all who are on disability are able to work, and I am not saying that all who are applying for it do not deserve it. I am saying that over my twenty two years working with and among the very poor, many that could be productive, choose not to. I have seen countless people applying for some type of government support for things such as simple as social anxiety or diabetes. Both of these are manageable and the symptoms are nothing that should create an environment of doing nothing. I know, I suffer from both. Now, when the lost do this, I can overlook it as a person that has not began a relationship with God, and needs to hear the Gospel, not a financial lesson or a Doctrine of Vocation class. For those that proclaim Christ, and are capable, well, that’s a different story.

I hear it now…”the church is there to help those that are in need, it’s not Christian to not give if we have it….” There is a difference between abject and relative relative poverty, so the church needs to be wary. Abject poverty is level of poverty that is not the cause of a person, but rather disease or death. The death of a spouse can create widows or orphans. Disease can can cause a family to loose a great portion of income. These type of situations is where the church can be its strongest. Sharing food, or helping with utilities, or cutting their grass, all have an effect on our friends and neighbors, and is the group that the Scriptures give about helping. Relative poverty is completely relevant to the situation. Relative situations are what I saw most often in every homeless or poverty ministry I was a part of. People experiencing relative poverty can be coached through their issues. These groups of people tend to run the gamut, or use multiple churches and agencies in a community, and they typically are not experiencing death or orphanage. They are not permanently disabled and, given the right circumstance, can do a lot more physically than others can. Just because someone says they can not pay the electric bill does not mean that they need someone to bail them out. I would suggest a little discernment for the church or for the helpful friend. The challenge is this………..Lets wait for part two.


I preached a message at the Nashville Rescue Missions’ nightly chapel service that caused quite an uproar. The men tried to shout me off of the stage and many would never speak to me again. The message was a simple one on Ephesians 4:17-32, the new man. all was going well until I got to the passage that says let him who stole steal no more. I did not simply refer to this passage as acts of larceny or strong armed robbery. This went much deeper into the hearts of men and it will illustrate another reason the poor stay poor as we continue this series.

Let Him Who Stole Steal No More

We all have the picture of stealing. A person sneaks into a house and takes a fistful of jewelry, or a person takes a gun and robs a gas station. I think there is a lot more implication of modern society than just robbery. The verse is Ephesians 4:28:
He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

I say this without apologies, and that was a part of the near riot at the Mission. The verse says that a thief must stop stealing, but must work. One of the problems in society is that when a person enters into many homeless programs, they are rushed into counseling that suggests that they are in need of Social Security. While that is true for a percentage of the homeless, it is not the norm. I watched as many who were on Social Security, mostly for mental health and addiction purposes, would get their check on the first Wednesday of the month, go get a hotel, hire prostitutes, drink and use drugs, and when the money ran out, they were back at the Mission. I watched as many men in the Mission would go through the fre clothes line and get nice coats or shoes, and take them outside in the courtyard and sell them to other residents and use the money for drugs, hotels, prostitutes, tobacco, or candy (which they would turn around and sell). I called it out as theft. I said that if a person could stand for eight hours “flying a sign” asking for money, they had the ability to work, and did not need to rob hard working people of their tax dollars to support a habit. It did not go well. The yells of racist and bigot began to rise up. People stood ans shouted until the security came and threatened a lock down. I continued the message with the same fire I started out with, pleading for the men to see what God wanted them to be and to become. I had never seen a reaction like that, but I challenged an ingrained belief these men had. This was not the only time that the concept of theft has been discussed in ministry, but it largely fall on deaf ears.

The abuse of the welfare state is one I have seen so many times. I had a family early in the ministry that kept struggling with finances and would frequent the church to ask for food and supplies. I met with the ‘boyfriend’ and found that he needed to find a job. I knew a few people and was able to get him an interview with a lawn care company. All he had to do was go to an interview the next Tuesday at 10:00 am. He said to me that 10:00 would interfere with an appointment with a local charity for food. The job would have paid $15.00 per hour and benefits. The issue was that he wanted free food more than working for it.

Biblical Insight

This will be a two fold biblical insight. One will be the application of scriptures as a tool for helping Christians lead a person to change in the belief that these actions are okay, and a challenge to the church about enabling people in their behaviors.

Stel no more. A clear call to the believer to not steal from anyone in any way. I will say that I am not opposed to the use of SSI or food stamps or other supports. They were created to provide assistance, not lifestyles though. The verse continues with, But he must work. I have met many people that will make every excuse to not work. Their mental state, their sore back, their lack of transportation, or their record. There are answers to all of those issues. I work at a very large hotel and convention center. I have seen a blind employee walking through the tunnels to get to his station. I have seen people with birth defects such as Downs Syndrone working at McDonald’s. I have seen men and women willing to walk many miles to get to work. Work is ordained by God. It was part of Adams’ responsibility in the Garden of Eden. It only became difficult after the fall. A lot of professing Christians will use whatever excuses they can to not work and live on government supports. Many of them are capable of work, but will not pursue any avenues to get work. Instead they sit around and rely on others to supply their needs and have nothing to offer to anyone else. They continuously find themselves in financial trouble, and instead of doing something that could lift them out of financial darkness, they remain where they are and complain about their circumstance. They will not have enough gas to get to a job, or they do not have enough time for interviews, but they have enough of both to get to the Social Security Office or to the food bank. As believers, we are not to look down on them or to pity them. Our role is to teach them. Teach the unbeliever like Peter did when the crippled man at the gate asked him for money. Gold and silver I do not, but what I have I give freely. He cured the man who got up and worshiped God. I am not suggesting a healing ministry, but I am saying to offer the hop of the Gospel and give it freely. To the believers that live in this lifestyle of theft, please understand I know there are people who need the support and the finances offered to them, challenge with the Scriptures. The church should not enable the unwilling. If the believer is unwilling to make a change in this area, it should be treated just the same as any other sin in the church. They need Matthew 18 discipline. Yes, to the exclusion of fellowship for unrepentance. Does this mean not to help? NO! It means that if they repent, you have won a brother. The church needs to be cautious about the levels of help and know when help has turned to hurting the needy.

LifeBuild for Real Change

I had worked in poverty ministry for a long time. I have seen many people rise out of the despair and bondage of a life filled with drugs, alcohol, and financial destruction. I was a grueling time filled with joy and many time, despair. The despair was linked to watching people refuse to accept the basics of healthy living and, most importantly, refusing the freedom of Christ into their lives. Today, I want to begin walking through some of the reasons that people would not make the change in life. This will be a series of articles that may take some stigma away from our thinking and how we can support and challenge hurting people with the truth of the Scripture.

False Beliefs

I was leading a group of addicts in a study of the book Walking the 12 Steps With Jesus Christ. (Ray Geisel) The third step, as with all 12 step support groups, is to surrender your life and will over to God as you understand Him. This, in my opinion, is the most crucial step in the process and the one that gets skipped the most often. I was teaching on the decision to be free completely from the bondage of sin and as they walked in the new freedom, they could finally break the bondage of addiction. A man that had been an addict told the group that change was not possible because he had been told for years in AA that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. First we discussed why he spent years in AA and was still using. It stemed from the fact that while he wanted to quit, he felt that since he was always going to be an alcoholic, he never saw anything else. It is a common belief in addiction circles. This may also be why AA can only tout a 50% success rate in their Big Book, with National Addiction Centers studies stating that of that rate, only 27% are sober for more than a year. (nationaladdictioncenters.org) This is not just an addiction issue. Although many in homeless shelters and Rescue Missions are addicted, as a former director and case manager, the idea that what a person believes, or refuses to believe, has an effect on their movement out of poverty. A false belief is normally taught directly, such as the AA teaching of once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, or it is indirectly taught. Indirect teachings are as simple as T.V. ads for quick cash loans. The commercials are stated that if you need cash now, just come in and get a $1500.00 signature loan with easy payments. The problem is that payments may be $200.00 per week or more. The deep issue here is belief. If someone believes that they are always going to be an addict, they will always have a crutch for relapse. Those that rely on the payday loan believe that this line of credit will keep them out of financial trouble, for a period of time will always be a slave to financial struggles.

Scriptural Insight

Please understand, these two examples are given as that, examples. The idea of false beliefs leading actions, attitudes, and thoughts something every person suffers from in a variety of settings. Proverbs 23: begins with: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so he is…….” A belief defines us, it drives us, and it determines how we respond to the world around us. If someone believes in their heart that children are neither male or female, they will say that they are raising a gender fluid child. If a person believes that they are always going to be an addict, they will always be an addict. The model of many groups, churches included, is that if you just stop doing certain activities, you will be transformed. This is nonsense. Romans 12:2 says to not be conformed in the patterns of the world, but be transformed.….in the renewing of your mind. (emphasis mine) What renews the mind? It is not the wisdom of men, but the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a person. The change factor is the belief of something new, and then training the mind through that new capability. The Holy Spirit is only available to people that have a new belief. A belief that Jesus paid the price for their sin on the cross and He was raised from the dead as the Living God (LORD). This new belief brings with it the Spirit og God to dwell in a new creation. It then allows the mind to be open to the truth of the Scriptures for training in righteousness, or right standing, and a new fellowship with God. Only then can a person have the ability to be transformed in their mind. The patterns of the world say that we will always be a…..fill in the blank. It will always tell us that if we would use this service, or buy this, or use this chemical, we can find peace, happiness, good friends, have a better life, but the Word of God tells us:
‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

When we help the addicted and the poor realize that their circumstances and decisions are based on faulty beliefs, we have open doors to share the hope that is in Christ Jesus with them. I do not know how the man in that class is doing today. All I know is that on that day, when I showed him that Jesus is the answer to being free from being called an addict, he lit up and said he was recommitting himself to the teaching of Jesus. We talked afterward about having to break the physical addiction, which was going to be hard, but to remember that God would surely hep him if was serious about the renewal of his mind. So it is with all of us.

Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of Christianity

I catch a bit of grief for my approach to Christianity. When I share biblical truths, I tend to do so very unapologetic, and with very direct calls to follow the Word of God. I believe in Solo Scriptora: The Scriptures Alone. It has not won a lot of friends, particularly in church circles. I am so quick to call out the failures of the modern church movements that a college professor told me to lay off the church. Liberal church members do not like that when discussing church, I do not fall to trends and liberal theologies, but return to the Scriptures for how the church should react to their ideas. It makes me sound exclusive and not very welcoming to people, according to their ideology. I really okay with that statement. I really believe that the Scripture is the infallible and inerrant Word of God for His people. A Special revelation of Himself to those that would call upon His name for salvation. Today I am going to share the Scriptural reasons I believe that Christianity is actually the most inclusive and exclusive relationship we can have.


John 3:16

For God so loved the world in this way, that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.

Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus leads to the proclamation of the love of God and how he showed that love. God so loved the world is a very inclusive statement. It was not just the Jews that God loved, it is not just the Christians He loves, it is the entire world. He loves the sinner and the saint. He loves the world in the most amazing way, that He would send His only son. This is typically the end of the message today. God is love and we should accept all in the name of love. This is true, God is love. His very being and essense is love. He loves His creation with all of His compassion and fartherly affection. While this is heartwarming and gives us the feels, it is not the end of the passage. He loved the world in this way. I love the Holman Christian Standard translation of this passage because it represents the Aramaic expression with so much depth and meaning. God did not just love, He wanted man to have a deep and loving relationship with Him. He desires fellowship with His creation, but, because of His holy nature, He can not fellowship with man in its fallen status. He can not fellowship with sin. God love in a way that required their sin be removed from His sight, and He did that through His son. Very Inclusive love.

The idea of His son can be a stumbling block to some. Jesus is called the LORD in many passages in the New Testament. This is what is called a tetragramaton in theological circles. The book of Exodus tells of an encounter that God had with Moses at the Burning Bush. During the discussion, Moses asks who he will tell the Egyptians and the Hebrews sent him. God responds with the phrase I AM that I AM has sent him. This word is a from a Hebrew word that has no vowels and is the English equivalent to YHWH. It is a name without utterance, and we translate it to Yahweh. When the Greek Old Testament was translated from the Hebrew, the translators had no way to write YHYH, so they translated it as LORD, all capital letters signifying this was the name God had given to Himself. Jesus tells Nicodemus that all who believe in the Son will not perish. There is a stark difference between believing in and believing on something. When I was a little child, I believed in the tooth fairy. I truly believed that she would come and replace my teeth with quarters. When I grew older, I quit believing in the tooth fairy. Believing on something is completely different. When I believe on the Son, I just do not say I believe He is there or that He is real, but rather I believe on what He is. I believe that His existence is not a a human alone, but that I know that His purpose is to be the God of Moses that would deliver His people from bondage.

Why do I say this? Let us look at Romans 10:13 as it says that those that call upon the name of the LORD will be saved. Here we see the tetragramaton used in reference to Jesus. He is the LORD. That name, whe unspeakable name to the Jews, is the name that will bring salvation to men. Romans 10:9-10 says that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, and believe in our heart that God rose Him from the grave, we will be saved. It goes on to say that it is in the heart we believe into righteousness, or become in right standing with God, and it is opur mouth that confesses in salvation. Then it goes on to say that those who call upon the name of the LORD will be saved. This is in stark contrast to Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says that not everyone that says Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Lord here is translated as boss, or overseer.. This is a huge difference, and where the inclusivity ends.


All are welcome to come and taste what the LORD has to offer. All can call upon the name of the LORD, all can experience salvation. not all who proclaim a faith will truly be of the faith. I listened to a young gay man proclaim loudly at the United Methodist Conference that the church he wants to be a part of is a welcoming church where everyone is welcomed and not hated. I would agree with him in theory. The reality is that the church is exclusive to those that are in the faith, have repented of their sin before a God that loves them so much that He gave up Jesus, not to teach about love and acceptance, but to be a sacrifice that was holy enough to forgive the sins of man, so He could love them in fellowship.

What is the church application of all of this? The church is going to be surprised some day when many who attend are not allowed into Heaven. They will cry out Lord, Lord, but Jesus will say for them to depart from Him because they worked iniquity, sin. The application is that instead of trying to fill the pews up with the lost to hear a message, why don’t we take the message to the lost? Instead of making the church a place where the sinner feels comfortable, why not preach the holiness and judgement of God against those that would not believe? Instead of teaching that all you have to do to be saved is recite a prayer, why are we not teaching people to truly be saved? Why are we afraid to say that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and no man gets to the Father except through Him? Heaven is very exclusive.

Which Comes First?

Does discipleship begin before someone is saved? I have heard that the work of the disciple maker is to make relationships that lead people to Christ. I am fully in agreement. I do believe that we make friends, be friends, and then introduce them to our friend, Jesus. The idea of friendship and showing Christ is not discipleship, much to the dismay of many prechers and ministry leaders. Please don’t take my word for it, let’s look to God’s Word for answers.

The Great Commission says in Matthew 28:16-20 says:

But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they [a]worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you [b]always, even unto [c]the end of the world.

This passage is a command with an understood YOU go and make disciples. The word disciple is a Greek term, matathres, which means learners. What are they supposed to learn? Later in the passage, we see Jesus give the imperative to “teach them everything I have taught you..” His directions have a purpose that many are intertwining, and it takes the passage out of the prescribed order. (Isn’t that what we say the lost does, disturb Gods order of things?) The order is:

  1. Make disciples or learners. This is evangelism. The notion that we begin discipleship with the lost does not make sense in the context of the Word. Look at what Paul says to the Corinthian Church: 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “… the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. How can the lost, or the perishing be learners if they have still look at the Word of God as foolishnes? They are not being disciples. They are in need of an evangelist. The biblical Greek is translated from”one who brings good news” and it is synonymous with the word for Gospel, thus the call is to go and evangelize the word, making disciples out of them.
  2. Baptizing. When an evangelist, which is our basic calling, shares the Gospel and one is brought into faith in Christ, the believer is to be baptized. This is not salvation, this is the outward sign of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the believers identification as one who has believed on the ressurection of Christ as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and establishing unity with the Body of Christ, the church.
  3. Now we get to the essence of what discipleship really is. Jesus telling His disciples to teach them everything He had taught them. One must be a believer, and expressed that belief in baptism before being truly ready to be a learner. Yes, baptism should come before discipleship. Jesus is seeking for His people to fulfill their role in the kingdom by spreading the Good News, making disciples, and then being the teacher that models the behaviors of what a Christian is supposed to be, whie equipping their disciple to know and understand how to live a life according to the Word of God and then, teaching them to go and make disciples.

We do not disciple the lost. We share the Good News with them. Sure, we befriend them, but our purpose is to allow that friendship to lead to a presentation of the Gospel. We do not sit too long trying to do friendship evangelism, we have to eventually risk the loss of of a friend because we talked about Jesus and His life, His death (and the reason He died), and His ressurection. When we say discipleship begins before salvation, we miss the point of disciple making and what happens to a disciple in the Church. It is no wonder that the church has become so clueless about the Word of God,

So, Here we go……

I have been talking about starting a blog for quite some time. I have attempted this a couple of times, and have always failed to continue. I have spent a lot of time in prayer, and this is a direction I am called toward.

What will this be about? This is not a personal blog about family, although there may be family discussions. It is not the attempt to build a business, even though I may monitize the site. It is about the Bible. It will be about the church. It will be about the culture we live in. It will be about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am convinced that the Christian world is loosing its way. The church is living in the “Laodecian” Era of theological ideology. We have become so interested in trying to get the lost world in the doors of the church on Sunday mornings, that we have forgotten the Great Commission, the call to go and make disciples. We have integrated the world into church so much, our current worship, in many churches, is no longer a time of deep personal sacrifice in the presense of an All Mighty God, but a performance based Christian concert where the church is lifting up the performer and the music wanting a feeling from it.

This blog will counter the culture with the truth of the Bible, the infalible, inerrant word of the Living God. It will also challenge a lot of teachings that have become so prevelant in the church today. This blog will be about what Acts 17:11 says as it describes the Bereans:

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were as they were told.

New American Standard 95

AND so we begin……..