Three Types of Subject Matter

In Acts 11 we see three types of subject matter that need to be communicated by God’s servants. 

11:20     preaching     euaggelízō     to announce good news, “evangelize”.  This is to unbelievers. They really just need to hear the gospel.  Until they grasp that nothing else really matters very much.

11:23     encouraging     parakaléō     to call alongside, exhort, admonish Related to parakletos, a title used of both Jesus and the Holy Spirit.   (See John 14:16, 15:26, 16:7 and 1 John 2:1)  This is especially to new believers. They need to go beyond the gospel itself and hear about commitment to Christ, growth and perseverance – so that they don’t see trials and fall away.  More mature believers also still need this from time to time because, let’s face it, we get discouraged and need motivation.

11:26     teaching     didáskō      (like “didactic”) to impart instruction, explain or expound a thing, instill doctrine. This is educating Christians about God and the Christian life, communicating all that God has revealed to us – from A to Z, Alpha to Omega, the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the Contents to the Maps.  Teaching nourishes and matures a church.  It is sorely needed in the church today.  Many Christians are ignorant of the Scriptures and are therefore weak in their faith (Romans 10:17).  We their pastors need to feed it to them.

The Resurrection

This Sunday we’re going to look at John 20, which records the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As I was going over the chapter, I was struck by the strength of this statement speaking of the disciples:

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” – John 20:9 (NKJV)

The resurrection is an essential doctrine of the faith.  Without it there is no Christianity.  Here are just a few more verses that come to mind:

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up…” – 1 Corinthians 15:14-15 (NKJV)

Not all “Christians” any longer believe the resurrection is such an essential doctrine.  Consider the following 18 second clip from one of the Jesus Seminar scholars.

John Dominic Crossan on the Resurrection

It appears that John 20:9 is still just as true as ever, perhaps especially among certain scholars.

“For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” – John 20:9 (NKJV)

to Christ

Evangelism need not be complicated.  No less a follower of Jesus than Simon Peter was introduced to Christ by someone who was a rank amateur in sharing his faith – his brother Andrew – who had only recently met Jesus himself.  Let’s look at the text:

One … who … followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42 (NKJV)

Andrew told Peter about Jesus the very day he met Him.  To be sure, Andrew still had a lot to learn about his Lord.  That education lasted a lifetime.  Nonetheless, without a shred of understanding of his apostolic gifts or authority, without ever reading or even seeing a gospel tract, and though he didn’t yet know Jesus very well, Andrew led Peter to Christ. 

This simple act is Part One of the to Christ – in Christ – for Christ vision we have for each believer at Horizon Central.

Leading others to Christ, as we see (again) in John 1:40-42:

One … who … followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.” – John 1:40-42 (NKJV)

It’s true that no one can come to the Father except through Jesus, but it’s also true that people can come to Jesus from anywhere at all.  People only need someone who knows Him already – someone just like us – to introduce them to Him.

Reaching Forward

One sure sign of stagnation in the Christian walk is a deepening desire for nostalgia – that sick sense of longing for the good old days.  Solomon reminds us that dwelling on an idealistic view of the past is pointless:

Do not say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For you do not inquire wisely concerning this.”
                                             – Ecclesiastes 7:10 (NKJV)

As followers of Jesus, we need to keep looking forward if we ever expect to keep up.  We do not follow a Savior who stands still – much less one who walks backwards.  The future is the only time available for us to apply the lessons we’re learning right now.  The future offers the only opportunity there is to experience the result of our spiritual growth.

Paul realized that even he was a work in progress.  The Christian can always be sure that the best is yet to come.  Reaching forward is the only way to get to it.  The Lord has a future planned for you that you don’t want to miss.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

The Source of Our Courage

Everyone probably struggles with fear in one form or another. I’m not really speaking of a serious phobia nor suggesting anything like paranoid behavior. I’m only pointing to the nervousness, doubt or hesitation that holds us back from that which we know deep down to be good. It can be revealed in our unwillingness to take the next step to advance our career, our reluctance to introduce ourselves to the new guy at work, or our inability to share an important struggle with a close friend who most likely would be happy to help us bear the burden.

We can learn a vital lesson from the life of Moses. Here was a man – a confessed murderer, no less – who fled from Egypt 40 years before. He then returned as a wilderness shepherd, staff in hand, and had the chutzpah to demand that Pharaoh release into his custody a large chunk of the Egyptian labor force. Courage exemplified.

So where did he get it? Was he just that kind of a guy – the kind of person I am not? Not hardly. If we journey to Exodus 3 to spy him at the moment God revealed this great calling upon his life, we find him just as fearful or hesitant as we might be – drowning, it seems, in a tank of inadequacy:

… Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” – Exodus 3:11 (NKJV)

But he was the guy to do it. So the Lord responded with:

… “I will certainly be with you…” – Exodus 3:12 (NKJV)

And that made all the difference. Moses, doubt intact, still did what he had to do. Later, Joshua received a similar command/promise:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

And what was true for them is true for us as Christians:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. – Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)

 

Getting Started @ School #18

I love to tell the story of when Horizon Central first got started – specifically how we acquired Old School #18. Many have been encouraged by hearing it. I’m encouraged just remembering it.

Before that day, Horizon Central was a group of people in a home fellowship that met in the Fletcher Place neighborhood of Indianapolis. The group was associated with the larger Horizon Christian Fellowship on the NE side – pastor Bill Goodrich. For the record, John Colón was leading the group and it met in the home of Scott and Tracy Murphy. They were praying about and looking for a way to begin a church nearer to downtown – one that would focus more on the people and needs near the center of the city.

So one day in November of 1997, the Indianapolis Public Schools held an auction to sell off some of the buildings which they had closed that year. Horizon had noticed School #18 in Fountain Square and thought it might fit their vision. They sent some guys over that day to bid on it.

They went to the auction equipped with somewhat more faith than money, but not a whole lot of either, really. As the going price for #18 went up they bid more money than they had. The bidding continued, so they dropped out, stopping at the limit of their faith. Eventually the building was sold. Oh well. Nice try anyway. God must have another plan.

Then the man that bought it gave us the building! And we’re still here, 10 years later. God did have another plan – one that teaches us that His resources are always greater than our own.

School #18 ← This is the place.  Beautiful, is it not?