Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)
TITLE: God’s Place of Encouragement
By Doug Laird
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Many believers attend out of a sense of an instilled â€śreligiousâ€ť obligation, to satisfy a desire for socialization, to entertain or to be entertained, or the need for a quiet hour away from it all.
Some attend looking for someone to establish a personal relationship with, while others stay away to avoid contact with certain members of a congregation.
Others attend to worship with other like-minded believers who enjoy the same type of activity that a certain local church promotes.
For some it is a matter of familial or role model expectations.
Others go whenever an anticipated need for the services of the Church are on the horizon, but then drift away until the next event requires that they make a more regular appearance, once again.
Some go to keep up their end of a bargain that they proposed to God in order to receive or retain a certain blessing or answered prayer.
Some go as seekers, knowing that there is something amiss in their life, but canâ€™t seem to put their finger on exactly what it is and are seeking answers.
Of course the list of reasons that others choose not to attend is just as long, if not longer.
The loss of appetite for our daily natural food is an indication that something has gone wrong. The same is true regarding the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God.
Rather or not the problem is with any individualâ€™s lack of appetite, or the lack of either the quantity or quality of the spiritual food being offered by any one given pulpit is matter for each believer and each pastor teacher to determine through regular self-examination.
The pastor is called to repeatedly teach the entire realm of Biblical Doctrine to his assigned congregation. His success is not indicated by his popularity, but by the ability of his congregation to articulate specific areas of doctrine in which they now know and apply, but did not know or apply, letâ€™s say a year ago.
The function of the Church was made clear in the Commission (1) that it received. The Church is to proclaim the Gospel Message to unbelievers and to make disciples of its born again members. Entanglement with other issues has led it to and through some of the darkest periods of Church history.
Mathetes is the Greek word of the original manuscripts that is translated disciple in the English Bibles. A mathetes is a technical student in a teacher-student relationship. A Christian disciple is therefore a technical student and applier of the Word of God. His/her classroom is the worship service in Church.
It is for celebrating the Lordâ€™s Supper (Communion) and for spiritual edification via the Word of God that believers are commanded to gather together on a regular basis. Truancy is a sin of willful disobedience. Habitual truancy is a lifestyle characterized by this sin.
What distinguishes the encouragement that we receive in the House of God from the encouragement we receive anywhere else, is that the encouragement that we (should) receive in Godâ€™s Place of Encouragement is from the Word of God. Unfortunately, there are many Biblically unqualified pastors, and many congregations lacking â€śBereanâ€ť (2) discernment. Satanic deception flourishes under such conditions.
Evangelists are called to present the Gospel Message to unbelievers. Pastors are called to continually feed the Word of God to the members of their congregation for their ongoing spiritual edification and growth (3). The members of the congregation are to digest and apply what they are being fed on a regular basis (4). This can only be accomplished when the message is rooted in Godâ€™s Word and the messenger and recipients are Spirit filled, which means to be under His enlightening and control (5).
Only when this is the spiritual environment, will the gathering together be the time of encouragement that it was designed to be.
The same passage of Scripture (6) that commands (not suggests) that we gather together on a regular basis, speaks of the encouragement that the believer is to both to receive and give to others during the time of corporate worship in Godâ€™s Place of Encouragement.
(1) Matthew 28: 19, 20 (2) Acts 17: 11 (3) John 21: 15-17 (4) 2Pet. 3: 18 (5) John 15: 5/Matt.15: 9/John 4: 23 (6) Hebrews 10: 25
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