Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Outcomes of the Great Omission

Monday, April 15, 2019

Outcomes of the Great Omission

Outcomes of the Great Omission

The Evolution of Contemporary and Pragmatic Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism

How easy it is to lose the perspective of purpose in ministry.  How easy it is to forget to keep first things first.  Charles Spurgeon said, “I do believe we slander Christ when we think we are to draw the people by something else, but the preaching of Christ crucified.”  The central and primary purpose of every local church assembly is to definitively teach people what Jesus taught and to maintain the purity of His teachings through both dogmatic proclamation, in-depth doctrinal persuasion, and appealing invitation to obey those Truths.  This central and primary purpose of local churches is exemplified in the doctrinal teachings of the Epistles of the New Testament. 

It is almost as if churches see no differentiation between what is happening in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles with what is going on in the Epistles and the Book of Revelation.  Since most churches make no differentiation, they do not see that the Gospels and Acts of the Apostle are written in the context of reaching the lost in the world, not IN THE CHURCH.  The writings of the Epistles and the Book of Revelation are intended to instruct and disciple BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH.  Confuse these two different objectives and the purpose of the church assembly is radically misappropriated. 

The purpose of the church assembled is for the edification of the saints.  The purpose of the church dispersed is to seek and to save the lost in the world and bring those saved to the local church to be baptized and discipled.  Edification is about building up the faith, knowledge, and practice of people who have been saved through teaching doctrine.  Edification is intended to prepare saved people to be effective in seeking and saving the lost in the world. 

Although apostate churches of both Catholicism and Reformed corruptions have corrupted the purpose of local church assembly for hundreds of years, Evangelical and Baptist churches maintained the distinctive differences between the purpose of the church dispersed and the church assembled until Methodism evolved and the city wide Revival/Evangelistic campaigns began in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Something called interchurch Camp Meetings also began to develop in various areas during this period of time.  These Camp Meetings were more revivalist in nature than evangelistic

The interdenominational city-wide evangelistic meetings drew large crowds of people and were very exciting.  These interdenominational city-wide evangelistic meetings professed to get great spiritual results with large numbers of professions of faith in Christ.  When these large-scale results seemed apparent, pastors of local churches began to try to replicate the practices exhibited in the city-wide campaigns.  This necessitated that music in the churches become more soul stirring.  Preaching had to become more enthusiastic, which usually just meant loud, and moving.  Granted, preaching should be persuasive and does not need to be boring, but it is only the Spirit of God that convicts of the Truth that moves a soul to repent and believe. 

The changing of this dynamic, where the focus of church services and preaching in the church house became focused upon attracting lost people to come church services to get saved, was the first step toward Contemporary Evangelicalism.  This dynamic began to permeate fundamental Baptist churches.  The local church as a vehicle for discipleship, by teaching the “whole counsel of God” to the saved, was radically corrupted at this juncture of historical corruption from which it has never recovered. 

Since the purpose of a local church is to “perfect the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12), then that better be what the church services are about; i.e. teaching people what the Word of God says and how to communicate that message to the world by living it and disseminating it.  Every time believers assemble in a local church; they should be taught what God has said from His inspired Scriptures and should be invited to begin doing what God wants them to do.  God does not need theatrics and performance-based ministries to manufacture spiritual decisions.  In fact, every true local church should be very careful about manufacturing spirituality or spiritual decisions.  When these things are manufactured, they will ALWAYS be ARTIFICIAL.  Artificial decisions and convictionless spirituality create artificial Christians

Paul’s meeting with the local pastors from the city of Ephesus recorded in Acts 20:17-31 gives us some excellent direction to avoid the superficial and the artificial.  The superficial and the artificial are the greatest enemies of a local church.  The superficial and the artificial are also the first step where a local church leaves her “first love” (Revelation 2:4).  Every local church and her leaders would be wise to take heed of Paul’s example for every local church is susceptible.   

17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:17-31).

Acts 20:27-31 defines pastoral responsibility regarding the last of the four great commandments in the Great Commission; “teaching them to observe.”  This command is about creating a militancy in a local church congregation that is willing to contend for the jots and titles of the teachings of Jesus that define practical Christianity.  Acts 20:27-31 defines pastoral responsibility in setting the example for every member within a local congregation to do the same things.  People do what leaders lead them to do. 

1.Take heed {cautiously pay close attention to details} therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock {as a shepherd/guardianship};” everyone, including pastors, are susceptible to being led astray by false doctrine or corrupted by temptations to sin.  The point is we are ALL supposed to watch out for each other and be accountable to one another. 

Remember {be mindful of} them which have the rule over you {God’s appointed guides}, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith {the way they live the Truth} follow, considering the end of their conversation {the way they live ‘the faith’}” (Hebrews 13:7).

Obey them that have the rule over you {God’s appointed guides}, and submit yourselves {to the Truths by which they guide you}: for they watch {guard or protect} for your souls, as they that must give account {to Christ at the Judgment Seat}, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you {at the Judgment Seat}” (Hebrews 13:17).

2.Feed the church of God;” “feed” is from the Greek word poimaínō (poy-mah’-ee-no), meaning to do the work of a shepherd; supervise and oversee.  Certainly, the context of feeding the flock is to teach the whole counsel of God to the church like Paul had exemplified (Acts 20:27).  This is a command to keep the local church doctrinally fed and spiritually nourished so they will be strong in “the faith” and able and willing to “stand” against all opposition.
3.Watch {stay awake and on your guard}, and remember;” the word “watch” is self-explanatory.  The word “remember” must be understood from the context.  The past struggles of false doctrine and spiritual corruptions will almost always be like the future struggles, just with different names and faces on them. 
4. “Warn every one;” the word “warn” is from the Greek word nouthetéō, (noo-thet-eh'-o), which simply means to fill the mind.  Paul kept the minds of the people of the local churches to which he ministered filled with warnings and concerns about wolves and their false teachings.  Paul did this “night and day with tears.”  It is better to make sheep overly cautious than to lose one to being a wolf’s’ dinner.  If I say, “I’m sorry,” after preaching the Truth, I mean I’m sorry for you.  Not for the Truth I preached. 

There was second change in the spiritual dynamic of the Great Commission in local churches resulting from the pragmatism (meaning copy what gets results) connected to the highly successful city-wide interdenominational evangelistic crusades. 

The focus in evangelism began to be upon inviting lost people to church services where the pastor would preach a Gospel message culminating with an invitation to the lost to come forward like done at the city-wide interdenominational evangelistic crusades.  The lost person would receive a short rehearsal of the Gospel message, usually something like the Roman’s Road, and then asked to pray a prayer asking Jesus into your heart.  This dynamic would be repeated at EVERY CHURCH SERVICE.  This ended the local church being a true center for discipleship in any real and practical sense. 
Every local congregation (church) must understand that there are progressive consequences when they fail to “perfect the saints, for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12); i.e. to make disciples or “teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  Every local congregation (church) must understand that there are progressive consequences when they fail to militantly “contend for the faith.”  There are progressive consequences when they fail to keep the other two commands of the Great Commission as well (“go” and “baptize”).  There are progressive consequences when they compromise the Gospel message and what defines a Biblical faith response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

All four of the commandments in the Great Commission have been radically compromised within professing Evangelical and Fundamental Christianity.  What does the culmination of those gradual, but progressive, compromises look like in a local church?  Jesus describes this kind of fake, artificial Christianity in Revelation 3:14-22.

14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22). 

When Christ says, “I know thy works,” He looks beyond their entire pretense, all the play-acting, all the superficiality to the reality of what these professing Christians are in their hearts.  He knows they are but pretenders!  He knows that they are artificial.  What Jesus is describing with the words “neither hot or cold” is the pretension that He sees in their hearts, apathy, indifference, complacency, and ARTIFICIALITY.  How did Christianity, the Church, get to this place when the Great Commission is so clearly and objectively defined?  This happens through very slow compromise over thousands of years and hundreds of generations. 

          Does a church need to be liberal in theology and apostate Christ deniers before this is their character?  Or, could it be any church that has no passion or zeal for the cause of Christ?  Could this describe the Social Club atmosphere that many local churches have become?  Could it be a church that has lost its vision for true evangelism?  Could it be a church just going through the motions and about gathering a crowd?  Could it be a church where, in most part, Christianity has become an inconvenience that costs too much money, too much time, and too much sacrifice?  What did you expect from God today as you prepared for services at your local church?  For what did you pray? 

          Could this describe a church that has become more concerned with recreation than with re-creation?  Could it be a church with more concern with outward appearances rather than a hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Could it be a church more occupied with getting than with giving?  Could it be a church more preoccupied with growth in size than growth in doctrine and spiritual depth? 

Could what Jesus describes in His Epistle to the Laodicean church be a church one step beyond the church at Corinth before a man of God came and gave then fourteen chapters of rebuke that returned them to Christ and brought them to repentance (I Corinthians 3:1-15)?  Paul concluded his epistle of rebuke with these words that I will paraphrase from I Corinthians 15:34:

“Wake up to what righteousness is, and stop living in sin; because of your inconsistency and apathy about true spirituality there are some people who don’t even know who God really is: you should be ashamed of yourselves.”

          To misrepresent the character and nature of God by living inconsistently and contradictory to that character and nature is blasphemy.  After making the statement he makes in I Corinthians 15:34, Paul gives the “therefore” statement of I Corinthians 15:58.  Notice the objectives in these commandments for redirection

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord {the Great Commission commandments}, forasmuch as ye know that your labour {the Great Commission commandments} is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

How much of what Paul says in I Corinthians 15:58 is just a reiteration of the fourth objective responsibility of the Great Commission given by Jesus to the Church?  “Teaching them to observe all {the whole; i.e, everything’} things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). 

The period of Church history known as the Laodicean church exists during a great time of apostasy, but the sin of the Laodicean church is that she takes no real stand in opposing that apostasy.  She takes the comfortable position.  She takes the compromising position.  Today we see innumerable organizations that desire to break down the walls of denominational and doctrinal barriers.  What this really translates into is toleration of apostasy and the compromise of the practices and doctrines Jesus taught.

There are vast numbers of other positions that say the same compromising things.  This is the continuing practice of ecumenical evangelism and new-evangelicalism.  These are the distinguishing characteristics of the Laodicean church period of church history.  What do all these movements have in common?  They are all trying to make peace with apostasy.  Christ did not come to bring peace on the earth, but a sword (Matthew 10:34).  Truth will always divide between those who accept it and those who reject it, regardless of their personal relationships.  This why Laodicean churches avoid definitive doctrinal conversations. To deny truth through any form of compromise is to deny Christ (Matthew 10:16-38).

Christ did not send us into the world to make peace, but to proclaim truth.  He never gave anyone permission to compromise one “jot or tittle” of truth in order to make the job easier.  We find a unique measurement of what it means to be outside of the circle of truth using the word tepid and the pretentious spirit of those practicing such things while professing to follow Christ. 

In Revelation 3:17 we see these new kinds of Evangelicals have gone so far in their pretension, that they have even convinced themselves that they remain in the circle of truth.  The worst thing about being deceived is that people do not recognize they have been deceived.  These deceived people then become part of the deception of others and a new generation of corruption is born and developed. 

Christ informs the Laodicean pretenders (Revelation 3:18) that they are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”  That is quite a comparison considering their evaluation of themselves.  Every fundamental local church is only one generation away from being a Laodicean church.  The lesson Christ would have the faithful to learn in dealing with Laodicean Christians is a simple one: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten {correct}” (Revelation 3:19). 

Then Jesus gives His final instruction; “be zealous therefore, and repent.”  This means stop taking the middle ground.  Stop being neutral.  Neutrality is a position that no Christian has any right to take (Luke 11:23).  Repent and return fully to the four objective commands within the Great Commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20.  How can any local church fulfill the Great Commission if they are not fulfilling all four of its definitive commandments? 

1. “Go” is to be aggressive, not passive
2. “Teach all nations” is to enroll the people who are “born again” out in the world into a teaching/discipling local church
3. “Baptize” is the initiatory rite into a community of believers dedicating themselves to sanctification and ministry service to Christ
4. “Teaching them to observe” means to create a militancy in a local church congregation that is willing to contend for the jots and titles of the teachings of Jesus that define practical Christianity  

35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages {in Israel}, teaching in their {the Jews} synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).

The point of praying “the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” is for OTHERS TO JOIN YOU!  Jesus is not telling His disciples to pray for someone else to come and do the ministry they were trained to do so they could set around and watch.  There are thousands of people who need Christ and it will take an army of trained, dedicated disciples to reach them.  The Great Commission gives us objective commands to obey and fulfill. 


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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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