The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes “lord” in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.
That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so. You can predict what everyone will do in the cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.
As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy. We blame the devil, the “last days” and anything else we can think of, but the greatest enemy is not outside of us. It is within – it is an attitude of accepting things as they are. We believe that what was must always determine what will be, and as a result we are not growing in expectation.
It was necessary that the Mediator of this covenant and this reconciliation be true man, but without any stain of original sin or any other, for the following reasons:
Firstly, since God is very righteous and man is the object of His wrath, because of natural corruption (1 Tim 2:5; John 1:14; Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4; Rom 8:2-4; 1 Cor. 1:30), it was necessary in order to reconcile men with God, that there be a true man in whom the ruins caused by this corruption would be totally repaired.
Secondly, man is compelled to fulfil all the righteousness which God demands from him in order to be glorified (Matt 3:15; Rom 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would perfectly fulfil all righteousness in order to please God.
Thirdly, all men are covered with an infinite number of sins, as much internal as external; that is why they are liable to the curse of God (Rom 3:23-26; Is 53: 11, etc). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would fully satisfy the justice of God in order to pacify Him.
Finally, no corrupt man would have been able, in any way, to even begin to fulfil the least of these actions. He would first of all have had need of a Redeemer for himself (Rom 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2). So much was necessary for himself before he could buy back the others, or could do anything pleasing or satisfying to God (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6). It was therefore necessary that the Mediator and Redeemer of men be true man in his body and in his soul, and that he be, nevertheless, entirely pure and free from all sin.
— Theodore Beza (1519-1605)
Punctuation is important! But a ‘coma?’
Look at the difference between these verses, one from the King James Version and another from the English Standard Version. First, the King James:
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Now the ESV (and most every other modern translation):
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Look at verse 12. God gave leaders in the church:
- For the perfecting of the saints
- for the work of the ministry
- For the edifying of the body of Christ.
That comma between “perfecting/equipping the saints” and “for the work of the ministry” is something that Robby Gallaty cleverly describes as “the comma that may have kept the church in a coma.”
The aim of your leaders in your church is not to do the work of the ministry exclusively, like a contractor hired by an organization to accomplish an assigned task, but as a shepherd showing the sheep how to be a flock.
He brings out another difference, this time in the Great Commission. First, in the KJV:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Now the ESV (and all other modern translations):
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
It’s “teach” vs “make disciples.” There is a difference. Here’s Gallaty on the difference between the two.
They take this to mean that they share the gospel and then encourage people to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” They communicate information. But while communicating information is important, discipleship doesn’t end there. As we learned in our study of the Hebraic roots of discipleship, more is required to make a disciple than knowing facts about Jesus. Making disciples requires equipping and investing in a lengthy training process, particularly for new believers. … A disciple is one who “is intentionally equipped with the Word of God through accountable relationships that are empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to produce Christ-likeness.” At the core, a disciple is not one who is in a static state of being, but one who continually grows and develops (Robby Gallaty, Rediscovering Discipleship, pp. 122-123).
For many, this is a paradigm shift of the first order, but it’s a necessary one.
- It’s not just up to the leaders to do all of the work, but to model by doing it as well as equipping.
- It’s not just about information dump, but a transformation of the heart and mind through teaching, investing, and equipping.
I cannot recommend Robby Gallaty’s Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words our First Work enough!