I. We must restore our gospel identity with the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the past, we have often identified ourselves, and our common fellowship, with a specific name. Some were very inventive with their names, glorifying either specific doctrines, special men in the history of their particular religious group, or a specific day of the week, or even a Jewish feast day. People today, however, turn away from unique names of identity.
As in the New Testament, there were no specific names given to the disciples of Christ, especially names in reference to assemblies. The early disciples identified with the risen Christ. As in the first century, many folks today simply want to be identified with Christ, and thus not form a lump of disciples in the worldwide leaven of the Bread of Life. They seek to be Christians only in a world of believers, without having been labelled with a particular name in order to be in membership with a unique religious group.
We must remember that unique names cause flight, whereas gospel draws people unto Christ alone. Christians must be Christ drawn, not name drawn. If the first Christians could be Christians only outside the identity of a unique group that meets at a specific location, then it is assumed that the same can exist today. Being tied to a particular institution of authority with a membership card is not in the thinking of those who simply want to be Christians only. Christians seek to be identified, through their obedience to the gospel, with Christ alone.
J. We must restore a positive mental attitude about preaching the gospel to the world.
In order to do this, we must not allow the knockers, knit pickers and no-no birds to run the organic function of the body. Among our leaders, it can never be “my way, or the highway.” When critics want to shoot the body full of negativity holes, we must ignore them and move on. Gospel is positive. And it is the nature of the good news to be told to others in a positive manner.
If we are not compelled to preach the gospel to the world, then we have not fully understood the nature of the gospel. If one is willing to let his “behavior be worthy of the gospel of Christ,” then he must repent and seek to preach the gospel to the world (Ph 1:27). We must be gospel motivated to the extent that each one of us will, as Paul, do the following: “So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also who are at Rome” (Rm 1:15). Inherent in the gospel is a positive mental attitude, for it is good news. Those who are negative in their faith do not have the spirit of the gospel within them.
K. We must restore self-initiative among those who seek to live the gospel.
If one has to ask for permission to do that which he or she must do in daily gospel living—that is, serving others and preaching the gospel—then he or she is stuck in an institution that is run by those who seek to lord over the flock of God.
Jesus said that lords of authority would not exist among His gospel-driven people (See Mk 10:35-45). So if one finds himself asking for permission to serve others, then he can conclude that he is not among the gospel-driven people of God. He is stuck in a religious institution that is under the control of lords. Some of these are those religious institutions that are closing their doors because people no longer seek to be confined to the service of lords, but to their only Lord Jesus Christ. Just remember that if you must ask for permission from some religious head, then your only head in reference to faith is not the Lord Jesus. If you have to ask permission to preach the Lord Jesus, then you have one too many lords in your life (See Ep 4:4-6).
[Next in series: Jan. 23]