Neglected Concepts of Today
What do you expect from church?
Many people expect different things from the churches they choose to attend. Some go to church for the social aspects—they want to be a part of a community. Others go to church for the outstanding music and performances that warm their hearts. By-and-large, most churches claim they exist to make disciples.
I spent some time examining the statements of various churches to see how they state their mission. There is an assortment of ways of stating what they do, but most evangelical churches are committed to make disciples.
- To grow and make disciples of Jesus Christ to the glory of God
- Love God…love others…make disciples of Jesus
- To present the gospel in such a way that turns non-Christians into believers; believers into disciples; and disciples into mature, fruitful leaders who will in turn go into the world and reach others for Christ
- A great church with loving people who are actively seeking God’s will for themselves, their church, and their community
- We are committed to be a family of God who seeks to make disciples for Christ
- We meet every week to worship Jesus, reconnect with each other over coffee, and enjoy life together. We’re here to celebrate the victories and hold each other up in the struggles. We believe a real relationship with Jesus Christ is best lived out in community.
At Truth Fellowship Live we are also committed to making disciples and Christian leaders. However, we state our purpose a bit differently than many of the other churches. So what is TFL all about?
By teaching the Truth of the Bible, we will equip the saints so they can bring glory to God by being involved in the work of ministry. Our ministries are directed toward evangelizing the lost, training those who trust in Christ to do the work of the ministry, and developing Christ-centered leaders in the community. The church has a strong emphasis on the careful and straightforward teaching of the Bible, salvation by faith alone, and the need to rely upon God for personal growth and development.
One of the distinctions of TFL is our commitment to the Word of God. As many other churches are moving away from teaching the Bible, we will continue to remain faithful to it. As churches move toward presenting more of a social gospel it necessarily moves those churches away from teaching many details within the Bible. There seems to me to be two characteristics that are not discussed much anymore—diligence and discernment. The church of today is largely neglecting these two important characteristics of the Christian life.
The first of these is the concept of diligence. Diligence has to do with our zeal for God. It is represented by our conscientious hard work and perseverance especially regarding our relationship with God. In the Bible, diligence is highly commended, but it may also be misguided. As Christians, we should abound in diligence (2 Cor 8:7—“But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”)
We are to diligently seek God. Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Enoch’s life pleased God because he walked with God by faith. In this passage, we see two necessary characteristics of the life of faith that pleases God. To please God, our faith must make us believe that He is—that is to say, that He exists; He is real—and our faith must teach us that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. In addition to this, our diligence should lead to several important characteristics of our lives.
- We should be diligent to obey Him (Deut 6:17; 11:13)
- We should be diligent to come to God by demonstrating our trust in Him and agreeing to obey His commandments (Isa 55:1-2)
- We should be diligent to add goodness to our faith (2 Pet 1:5)
- We should be diligent to keep our values pure before God (Prov 4:23)
- We should be diligent to carry out our labors of love and good works (1 Tim 5:10; Heb 6:10-12)
- We should be diligent to show ourselves to be blameless before Him (2 Pet 3:14)
- We should be diligent to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10)
- We should be diligent to examine our lives before God (Ps 77:6)
- We should be diligent to teach the Word of God (2 Tim 4:2; Jude 3)
- We should be diligent to teach our children about true faith in God (Deut 11:19)
Our service to God needs to be preserved (Gal 6:9) and it is never in vain (1 Cor 15:58). We must be diligent to be steadfast, immovable, always abound in the work of the Lord. If we exhibit such diligence in our walk with God, He promises to reward us. As we saw earlier, God richly rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Unfortunately, we see little of this diligence within the church of today. Far too often, those in the church stress their own abilities rather than steadfastly relying upon God. Of course, people will say they are diligently seeking God, but this is mere lip service. I suggest we re-double our efforts to diligently seek God—all of God.
The second concept we don’t seem to discuss in the church is that of discernment. Discernment involves sound judgment, which makes it possible to distinguish good from evil, and recognize God’s right ways for His people. Discernment is necessary for the understanding of spiritual realities and, on a practical level, for right government and the avoidance of life’s pitfalls. Diligence involves personal insight that goes beyond the given facts.
Consider Heb 5:13-14:
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
To remain as a baby who only requires milk is unsatisfactory in the life of the Christian. We see that babes in Christ (which seem to constitute the vast majority of those in the Church) are inexperienced in their understanding and application of God’s word—the word of righteousness. It isn’t that they lack information; rather, they have failed to put the teaching about righteousness to use. These people lack the skill that is characteristic of maturity. Babes in Christ lack the skill to make appropriate moral choices. But those who feed on the full word of God are mature and have the ability to exercise reason and thereby discern between good and evil—they see the difference.
In the Bible, people can discern matters in a spiritual manner (1 Cor 2:14) or through their own nurtured powers (Job 34:4). Often those in the church lack discernment because they lack due diligence in knowing the Word of God.
Discernment is always to be desired. Those without discernment are looked down upon (Deut 32:28), while the discerning are considered wise and knowledgeable (Prov 8:9; 14:6; 15:14; 16:21; 17:24). The quest for discernment is universal; the righteous and unrighteous have a perceived need for insight, but is only attainable—truly attainable—by knowing God and His will. This happens only by knowing the Bible and applying it to our lives. Paganism uses magic and divination to gain insight (1 Sam 28); kings and rulers have their advisors (Gen 41:33); and in our day, people turn to friends, therapists, and consultants. As God’s children, we need to look to Him for advice (1 Kings 3:9; Ps 119:125).
While I worked at a local grocery store, I learned that tellers we trained to recognize counterfeit currency. To do so, they study legitimate money so they knew every detail of every bill. They did not look at counterfeit bills, because there could be an infinite number of errors in those bills. Rather, they studied the real bills so they knew exactly what a real bill looked like. By knowing the real deal, they were able to recognize the counterfeits.
The same is true in distinguishing good from evil and truth from untruth. Many people are broadcast on television and radio who do not teach the truth of the Bible. As God’s people, we must be able to discern what is true and what is false. This can only be accomplished if we know what God tells us through His revelation about Himself—the Bible. Only by knowing what is true can we recognize what is false. It seems to me that people readily accept the false statements presented by many speakers because they don’t know what God says regarding the truth. We fail to discern truth from falsity because we don’t know the truth.
We are concerned at TFL that all of us exercise these two concepts. We must diligently seek God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. And we all desire to be discerning by growing in our relationship with God through the study and application of His Word. Only by diligently seeking God can we discern the truths of God.
How well equipped are you to diligently discerning truth within a world filled with fallacy?