I do desire to post things that are more instructive than critical. But the proliferation of false teaching and stupid gimmickry that plagues modern evangelicalism right now has left me with overwhelming compulsion to respond and refute much of what is floating around right now. Perhaps that is how Juder felt when he wrote:
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you(G) to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed(J) who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (Jude 1:3-4).
However, considering all the criticism I have dished out of late I remain wary of the pitfall that always looms large in the world of "watchblogging" - that being diagnosing too many problems and offering too few solutions. With that in mind I have taken it upon myself to contrast so much of this modern junk with true biblically defined discipleship and growth. What follows is based upon a sermon I recently preached that drew heavily from Mark Dever's excellent book "Nine Marks Of A Healthy Church".
BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF GROWTH
Growth and discipleship are popular buzz words in modern churches. Terms like “church growth” and “mega church” testify to the popular idea that growth is about getting a lot of people to sit in a lot of chairs. I also have often heard comments like “the great commission is about making disciples, not converts” and another favorite “conversion is the easy work, discipleship is the hard part”. It is important that we understand growth and discipleship as the Bible defines them. It is also important to rightly understand conversion in order to understand what a disciple really is.
With all the “church growth manuals” for sale at the Christian bookstore it is helpful to start with Who causes the growth:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, words of the Apostle Paul).
As a preacher, my flesh needs to be constantly reminded that it is God who grows His church. He has given me the priveledge of proclaiming His Gospel that He delivered. Read through the book of Acts and you will see over and over again that the church grew as God added people to the church.
Peter painted a beautiful picture of the growing church:
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:2-5).
As this series continues will look at some of the elements that are important in church life so that we may grow as disciples. Much of this will be based upon . In part 2 of this series we will take a look at the importance of expository preaching and biblical theology in facilitating our discipleship and growth.
More to come . . .
Go On To Part 2