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October 8, 2021 12:01 am
The church is called to make the reign of the Christ visible to the world. Today, R.C. Sproul underlines the importance of equipping every Christian for ministry in the global advance of God's kingdom.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind, beloved for the church to please a church that a search must in this world be the church militant and I don't believe the church can ever be the church triumphant unless it is first the church militant.
The truth militant groups in turn is new to you. It's not how you would describe the church. It seems like it goes against the idea of the Christian should be kind, compassionate, anything militant Dr. RC Sproul is going to explain how this term applies to us as the body of Christ. I remember when I was a seminary student preparing for the ministry I had the opportunity to spend some hours with an elderly Methodist minister and I took advantage of seeking to gain some insight from his vast experience and after I had quizzed him on a number of things.
He turned the tables and asked me somewhat provocative question.
He said, or say. He said if you were to choose between two images to describe the nature of the church which of these two images would you select the gave me the options of an army or a hospital. As is the church more like an army or is it more like a hospital, I didn't hesitate for a second I knew the answer to that question goal. I said that's simple.
The church is in harmony because I was fired up. I was a young man I had enlisted in the battle.
I had enrolled for the duration and I saw the principal task of the church to be a spiritual army for the cause of the kingdom of God. I didn't look at the church principally as a place where I could go and have my wounds tended and have gone forward into my sores, but rather, I wanted to enlist for battle. That's typical. I think abuse who get more excited about the adventure of victory and conquest then of ministry to those who are in pain who are lonely, who are hurting for one reason or another. The coarseness minister in his wisdom quickly rebuked me and told me that actually the question he had posed before me was intentionally a false dilemma. He said son the church is both an army and a hospital there was a simple little thing that that man communicated to me so many years ago, but for some reason is one of those things that has stuck in my mind ever since I can remember the cynical words used by Madeline Murray O'Hare when she said that the church is the only army in the world that shoots its own wounded. Again, a cynical statement but a statement of probably reflects some painful episode in her past where she didn't feel properly ministered to by the church. We do go to the church to be ministered unto, but there comes a time, ladies and gentlemen when we are called as we are strengthened by the means of grace as we experience the healing that the church has to offer to us. There is a time where the Carolyn call call for us to enter into that warfare that the apostle Paul says is a warfare not against flesh and blood, but it is against powers and principalities, and spiritual wickedness in the high places, beloved for the church to please a church that search must in this world be the church militant and I don't believe the church can ever be the church triumphant unless it is first the church militant no one can be victorious in the battle without being in the battle. It's that simple and that we have been called to a battle is abundantly clear in sacred Scripture. When we go back and look at the same thing that is recorded in the New Testament that takes place immediately following the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
I've already alluded briefly to the death of Stephen when I pointed to it as a watershed moment in church history where the establishment the authorities of the existing church condemned Stephen to death as a heretic, when in fact he was the one who was pleading the true face well after the record of his death in chapter 7 of acts we read these words in the beginning of chapter 8 of the book of acts, and Saul was consenting unto his death, and at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles and development carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house and hauling men and women and committing them to prison. Verse four than raids. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Now here we have an exceedingly brief summation of an exceedingly important point of transition in the early church were told at the beginning of this chapter that this great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem and why was the church in Jerusalem. The first, remember that when Jesus ascended he told his disciples to Terry in Jerusalem. He promised them he said you will receive power, after that the Holy Ghost will come upon you and he instructed them to wait for that power from on high. What was the purpose of that power. Christ was going to play God's spirit upon his church to empower them for the task on the mission that they had been given, and he also set forth the purpose of that task to remember that his ascension the last question. The disciples asked the Lord while you now going to restore the kingdom to Israel and Jesus virtually ignores that question yards. He said those days and not my hands. None of your business, but then he said to them what but ye shall be my witnesses first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and then in Samaria and then to the uttermost parts of the earth that we see that the commission that Christ gives the church is one that works again in concentric circles. It begins here in Jerusalem and then it moves outward from Jerusalem to Judea and then to Samaria and then where to the the whole earth.
Basically, but the task to which every Christian is called is to be a witness to be a witness know what's the context in which Jesus gives this task in this mandate to his church, will you now restore the kingdom to Israel.
It was in the context of a question that focused on the character of the kingdom of God. Jesus say wait a minute you guys don't have it right the times for the kingdom, and my father say it when that's going to happen is none of your business, but in the meantime when the king leaps I am ascending now to my father in heaven.
I'm going to my coronation. I'm going to my investiture as the king of the kings of the Lord of the Lords bought my kingdom is invisible pilot was looking around for Jesus kingdom of the trial.
Are you the king of the Jews there looking at larger palace was your army is in my kingdom is not of this world does that mean that he has no dominion over this world that the stream of his authority doesn't include this world. On the contrary, all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Christ and at the ascension. He has been thrown so that the king of kings is already seated in the place of cosmic authority do they understand that down in City Hall in Orlando. Do you think that Washington consults with the K of kings every day before it gives us decisions to think that every politician in the world is jealous to carry out the will of the one who was the king over him. You know better than that because no one can see the kingdom of heaven. No one can see Christ in his exalted state of cosmic authority. The kingdom of God right now is basically in visible, so what's the primary task Christ gives to the church. We talked already about the difference between the visible Church of the invisible church remind you what John Calvin said the chief function of the visible church is to make the invisible church visible.
That is the true Christian is called by Christ to make the reign of Christ visible to the world and the operative word is the word witness. There are all kinds of ways by which the church is called to bear witness to the kingdom of God and to the Lordship of Christ. One of the most important is clearly the preaching of the gospel.
The work of evangelism.
That's a vital form of witness, but when the church ministers to the poor. When the church feeds the hungry one. The church gives us water to the thirsty and close to the naked when the church of visits prisoners in jail. The church is making manifests making visible the reign of Christ, so that the general task is to bear witness, whether by ministry to the sick or to the imprisoned or whatever. By being fair on the job or by verbally preaching the gospel.
Those are all forms of witness, but those of you have never had the opportunity to study the Greek language. Perhaps you are not aware of the Greek word that is translated by the English word witness. Some of you I'm sure know what it's all transliterated for you on the board's march to Rea not monitory, which would mean mature but the moratoria what English word. Do you suppose comes from the word martyr. Those who died for the faith in the first century and through all of Christian history. Those who bore witness to the kingdom of God, even unto death by pouring out their own lives were called martyrs not because they died because they bore witness because they made the invisible kingdom of God visible through their profession and through their obedience. But, beloved martyrdom occurs only when the church is the church militant nobody ever bothers to persecute the church choir absent or the church are quiescent. The church was hardly born before persecution descended upon the followers of Christ, those followers whom Jesus once had defined as being the students who were not above the master if the world has hated me they're going to hate you even had to take up your cross. If you identify with me they're going to have to be willing to participate in my humiliation and in my disgrace, and in my suffering. If you ever want to participate in my glory and in my exultation and it hardly left until the fire fell upon the early church, and because the Christian community. The persecution was so severe that they fled from Jerusalem is ironic that that diagram of concentric circles was accomplished in the providence of God in the first instance because of persecution.
It was persecution that drove the church out of Jerusalem and in the Judea, and in the Samaria and into the uttermost parts of the year that we noticed that in verse four of chapter 8 we read, therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. That was the net effect of persecution where the church was persecuted.
It was dispersed it was scattered but whatever it was, scattered those that were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Now here's my question. Who were those who were scattered to catch it when I read when he read it again and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Ladies and gentlemen, the church militant of the first century the church militant that turned the world upside down was a church with a mobilized laity apostles dangerous. It was the rank-and-file that fled and did the work of an evangelist. One of the primary tasks of the church is to equip the saints for ministry. The church is not only here to nurture your soul and to prepare you for heaven but also is to train you and assist you in gaining the skills to minister here in this world.
Every Christian is called to participate in the ministry of the church to some degree, and at some level, and it's only when the laity becomes mobilized that the church militant makes an impact on the world. I understood that 20 years ago. That's right. Instead of devoting my life exclusively to the preparation of pastors in seminary education. I was convinced that nothing was going to happen in this world for the cause of Christ until the gospel went to the layperson until the layperson became equipped became knowledgeable became articulate and not just a 90 day wonder conscripted a national emergency or set off to the National Guard. We need trained and skilled people who enlist in the army of Christ. But if you do it if you join the church militant, you can expect persecution when we are not persecuted.
It's not so much because we've already won the battle.
Now everybody's a Christian. The reason why when I persecuted was when a considered a threat to anybody we've been assigned to a reservation and the secular nation has said as long as you behave yourself and live within the confines of that reservation you have all the freedom and protection to pray as much as you want. Through the Bible as much as you want to sing all the hymns you want, but you dare step off that reservation and will be your head down to common to the public arena with your faith. You try that and you see how soon the hammer of persecution for the early church was fighting for the kingdom of God and they were prepared to be casualties for Christ images, read the conclusion of the rollcall of faith that we find in the right chapter 11 of Hebrews where he concludes his rehearsal of the great actions of faith of the heroes of the past and he says what side more safer time would fail me to tell of Gideon and of Barrick of Sampson objects.
David also in Samuel and the prophets who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises and stopped the mouths of lions that the church they quenched the violence of the fire escape the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the alien women received their dead raised to life again. Others were torturers, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection than others had trial of crew markings and scourging's bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder they were tempted, they were slain, slain with the sword. They wanted about in sheepskins and goatskin's being destitute, afflicted and tormented, of whom the world was not worth all of them looking for a better country, whose builder and maker was God, each of whom, at the end of his or her pilgrimage passed over the line from the church militant and entered into the church trial. One of my greatest fears is that the end of my life. God will say to me scroll you are a man of whom the world was worthy of the judgment that would, but unless were willing to fight and willing to die. We are not the church. The call is to take up our cross and follow Christ. Our call was to follow in his suffering, and to be willing to face persecution referred another convicting message from Dr. RC Sproul today and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind all week. We have featured Dr. scroll series on the church and our resource offers an important reminder of our duty as Christians. When you contact us today with a donation of any amount we like to send you Dr. Robert Godfrey's latest series, the necessity of reforming the church. Dr. Godfrey is a look at your teaching fellow and the term of the board of Wigner ministries is a church historian he's been observing trends of the church for many decades said in the series.
He provides biblical ways we can bring reform to the church today. You're welcome to contact us and request all six messages will send the DVD to you when you give a donation of getting about to look at her ministries again. The title of the series, the necessity of reforming the church by Dr. W.
You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can make a request to give your gift online at redoing your mind.Ward want to welcome Wigner's Pres. and CEO Chris Larson to the studio in the Chris, the title of RC's message today was to the ends of the earth, and that that seems appropriate is you what I think our listeners for their support for reaching parts of the world that were unimaginable only a few months ago. Ever grateful for listers from near and far.
I know for many of our listeners and 470 students of looking ministries this past year has been a difficult time for the people of God not being able to gather with fellow believers on the Lord's day for period of time and that separation has been difficult, but yet God's word has continued to go forth and to encourage and equip God's people around the world. Just listen to this collection of testimonies that came in during that difficult time 999 Miami, namely retired pharmacist Verizon currently on vacation in Yellowstone is your listening in the background.
You may hear RC 20 years listening RC I really can't turn it off.
Watch this student's started to spin the company distrust and for that I'm so great through the teachings of RC scrolls.
I was able to grow in Christ. During the time where it was hard and I was very proud as he RC scroll would be very proud of his ministry is being run. Thank you guys can't get enough from the bottom of my heart to be able to see me and for me to be able to grow in Christ. After Spruill has always been one of my favorite teachers that he has taught me this I trying to teach others.
So grateful for leader before for all that they supply. Pray that it will continue for generations to please keep what you did was nothing the many lines thank you God bless, but we think you because those encouraging words put wind in our sales. We always enjoy hearing from you. Are listeners that we think you for being with us today and before we go. Let me tell you about what will be featuring next week studying Scripture reveals everything we need to know about our sinfulness and God's faithfulness to say next week. Dr. scroll examines the biblical doctrine of redemption as summarized in the five solos of the Reformation will remind us that God alone deserves the glory for our salvation.
So I hope you'll join us. Beginning Monday for Renewing Your Mind