ARLetters from Mom: Becoming Messengers of the Perfect Gospel
Who among us will bring them the message of the perfect gospel? Who will reach out to explain the way of God “more accurately”? Today, many devout and God-fearing men are navigating the rough waters of many denominations as well as battling the winds of increasingly fierce relativism. As followers of Christ’s one doctrine and one faith, we must shine like beacons in the night to guide these weary navigators to the true gospel.
Since reading the
"One Faith" theme articles in the October-December 2000 issue of
Manna, I’ve thought much about our role as messengers of the perfect
gospel in the world today. How, for example, do believers in the True Jesus
Church bring the Lord’s message of water baptism to men and women who
truly believe a person is saved when she confesses that Jesus is Lord and
accepts Him into her heart? How do we explain that, as in the days of the
apostles, they too can now see and hear for themselves when a person has
received the Holy Spirit? And how do we share that "it is clearly the
will of God to have only one church on earth rather than many Christian
denominations or groups?" As you can see, a difficult task awaits every
one of us.
The Christian church,
as we know it, has a two-thousand-year history. Though today a confusion of
many denominations and non-denominations, it did begin as one body of
believers who shared one doctrine and one faith. With the Holy Spirit in
their midst, the early believers "devoted themselves to the apostles?
teachings and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to
prayer" (Acts 2:42, NIV). This took place in Jerusalem, where the
apostles had gathered following Jesus?return to heaven. But as we read in
the Bible, this one doctrine and one faith would, as time went by, be
challenged by folks who added to and/or subtracted from the apostles?
teachings that had been taught them by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
Unfortunately, this challenge was not just confined to the pages of the
Bible. As Christianity spread, this one doctrine and one faith very quickly
got lost in the course of human history. Confusion in the church has reigned
ever since. This is a sad commentary because all through history, devout and
God-fearing men and women have longed to obey God and do His will. This is
also true of devout and God-fearing men and women of our time. They love the
Lord with all their heart and would, if it were demanded of them tonight,
give up their lives for their faith; setting for us an example of which we
can only admire from afar. The fact remains, however, that the Christian
church today is not the one body she appears to be.
Our Lord never meant
for this to happen. He very specifically taught the apostles that He only
has one flock. As was pointed out in one of the theme articles, Jesus had
told the apostles, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold;
them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one
flock and one shepherd" (Jn 10:16 NIV). The Lord our God does not make
promises He cannot keep. In the time of His favor, devout and God-fearing
men and women will hear His voice. All those who have been appointed for
eternal life will stop wandering around in circles. No longer will they lead
or be led astray.
We find an example in
the apostolic church in the person of a man named Apollos. A Jew, he was a
native of Alexandria, a large city in the Roman Empire renowned as a great
center of learning. The author of Acts describes Apollos as an
"eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures." He writes, "This
man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the
spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he
knew only the baptism of John" (Acts 18:24-26).
Today, there are many
Apolloses in the Christian church. Eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures,
these devout and God-fearing men and women devote themselves to the speaking
and teaching of Jesus Christ. Having understood that God sent His only son
from heaven to suffer and die for the sins of the world, they cannot help
but speak boldly of God’s great love for all men. But like Apollos before
them, they have one need, as we read: "When Priscilla and Aquilla heard
[Apollos], they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of
God more adequately" (Acts 18:26). Notice the words "more
adequately." This act was of no small significance for as we learn in
subsequent verses, Apollos became a most effective messenger of the Lord’s
perfect gospel. "When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers
encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving,
he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. For he vigorously
refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus
was the Christ" (Acts 18:27,28). This example could be repeated again
and again in our time.
Still, in a sea of
denominations and non-denominations that span the globe, the True Jesus
Church is small and insignificant. While much of the Christian world elbow
for position and recognition on the world’s stage, we go about our lives
quietly, worshiping God and minding our own business. While they turn their
heads and lean their hearts toward new teachings added to and/or subtracted
from the one doctrine and one faith, we remain unaffected. Secure in the one
doctrine and one faith as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ to the earliest
workers of His church in 1917, we shut our doors behind us upon entering the
sanctuary of our homes and chapels. We say our prayers and sing our hymns.
We listen to our sermons and read our Bibles. And all is well.
But all is not well
when men and women are left to sink or swim in this sea of many
denominations and non-denominations. When the Lord was on earth, He told His
followers that they were obligated to be the light of the world (Mt. 5:14).
Light, by its nature, draws attention to itself. It offers light to those in
the dark and warmth to those in the cold. Even from a distance, light fills
the weary and confused traveler with hope, perks up his spirit, and
encourages him to make that one more step in the right direction. It carries
the message that tells him where he is at and shows him which way he must
A light was, in
essence, what Priscilla and Aquila became to Apollos. Without drawing
attention to themselves and stealing the spotlight, this couple worked
behind the scenes. Sensing a devout and God-fearing man, Priscilla and
Aquila reached out to this newcomer in their midst. Though fully equipped
with the knowledge of God and certain of His way, they were careful not to
dampen Apollos?spirit and snuff out his faith. Mindful of God’s grace,
they sought only to explain "the way of God more adequately." In
that sense, they shone like a beacon in the night to guide Apollos and help
him stay on course while he was navigating his spiritual journey.
>As followers of Christ’s
one doctrine and one faith today, we too must shine like beacons in the
night. Beacons exist to warn or guide ships that navigate the seas as they
make their way from their place of departure to their place of destination.
They’re an especially welcome sight to the navigator on rough waters and
in times of distress and foul weather. Today many devout and God-fearing men
and women are navigating the rough waters of many denominations and
non-denominations even as they are battling the winds of increasingly fierce
relativism. The time has come when we must reach out like beacons in the
night. Anchored ever so securely in the one doctrine and one faith, we shall
be an especially welcome sight to the multitude of weary and confused
navigators before us.
Make no mistake. The
challenge before us is no small matter. And we will be tested and tempted.
But none of this should deter us. Remember the Lord’s exhortation,
"Freely you have received, freely give" (Mt 10:1-8). Take it to
Take this statement to
heart as well: "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."
Heed the advice that follows, "Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore,
to send out workers into His harvest field." (Mt 9:37). There is no
more urgent plea than this today. Though we do not always know it, devout
and God-fearing men and women present in our midst are watching and waiting
for a way out of the confusion of many denominations and non-denominations
of this world. Who among us will bring them the message of the perfect
gospel? Who among us will reach out to explain the way of God "more
accurately?" Let every one of us begin by asking the Lord for the
strength and courage to emulate Priscilla and Aquila. Let us ask Him, not
tomorrow or the day after, but today. Surely He will hear our prayers and
fulfill His promises in the time of His favor.