|Turbo Charge Your Church||by R. David Pogge|
In the previous four chapters I have tried to establish the fact, generally speaking, that the modern Protestant church is weak because it has allowed itself (even encouraged itself) to become corrupted with Greek mythology, anti-Semitism, and secular values. It will continue to be weak as long as it retains these corrupting elements. You must purge these destructive doctrines from your congregation before the Holy Spirit will energize your church.
But getting rid of the bad things doesn’t help unless it is replaced by good things. Jesus warned,
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” [Luke 11:24-36, NIV]
If you simply get rid of all the false doctrines we have identified so far in this book, they will just be replaced by other false doctrines—unless you fill your congregation with the truth. So, in this final chapter, I won’t focus on what not to teach—I’ll focus on what your congregation should be teaching.
If you want the Holy Spirit to help you spread the message, you have to spread the same message Jesus did during His earthly ministry. Jesus had a clear message that was succinctly summarized by Mark and Matthew. It was an end-time judgment message.
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. [Mark 1:14,15, KJV]
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” [Matthew 4:17, NIV]
When sending out the disciples, here’s what Jesus told them to preach:
As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ [Matthew 10:7, NIV]
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. [Luke 10:8-12, NIV]
Jesus gave John an important vision which included this definition of the gospel:
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” [Revelation 14:6,7 NIV]
Let’s examine that verse closely. First of all, the message the angel says “in a loud voice” is “the eternal gospel.” It must be proclaimed loudly. It isn’t an obsolete gospel. It is the everlasting gospel. Therefore, it is the gospel that should still be preached clearly today. It has not been replaced by a kinder, gentler gospel.
It is to be proclaimed “to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.” It isn’t just for one culture—it is for everyone. It is the eternal, universal gospel that should be proclaimed “in a loud voice” to all people in every age.
The message to be proclaimed is, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” It is the last-day judgment message, coupled with the creation message. The Gospel Jesus commands us to preach is the exact opposite of the message proclaimed in so many Protestant churches today (evolution and unrighteousness by faith).
The literal six-day creation is an integral part of the Gospel. It establishes sin as the reason for death, and the necessity of Jesus’ death on the cross to pay the penalty for that sin. If Jesus isn’t the Second Adam, whose death pays the penalty for the First Adam’s sin, then there is no hope for us on judgment day.
If Jesus had used PowerPoint, He might have included bullet points like these in His presentation:
Jesus used parables rather than PowerPoint. Nearly all of them focused on the coming judgment and the importance of being ready for that judgment by living in obedience to God’s laws. (The Prodigal Son is not the only parable He taught—but a twisted version of it is the only one taught in some churches.) Preach all the parables with power, and your congregation will have power.
Paul had a powerful gospel message, too.
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. [Romans 2:5-16, NIV]
Paul was a powerful, successful preacher because the Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit was with him because he preached the same gospel that Jesus preached. He didn’t preach some watered-down message about God excusing every sin because of His great love for sinful men. Unfortunately, some of Paul’s congregations turned to other, more sin-friendly gospels.
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. [2 Corinthians 11:3-4, NIV]
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! [Galatians 1:6-9, NIV]
Let us not preach another, smoother, false "gospel." Don’t be ashamed to preach the real gospel message. Paul wasn’t ashamed of the gospel message he was preaching.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” [Romans 1:16,17 NIV]
Since a key element of the gospel is righteousness by faith, emphasize that powerful doctrine.
The true gospel is a message of victory—not failure. You can be righteous. God will give you the victory over sin, if you have faith. Don’t believe for a moment that sin is stronger than God’s power to overcome sin.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. [Romans 6:12-14, NIV]
Grace is the power God gives you to enable you to live in obedience to the law. Grace is not license to disobey the law without consequences.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. [1 John 3:4-9, NIV]
Paul urged all of his followers to walk by the Spirit.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5:13-26, NIV]
It goes without saying that your church should preach about Jesus’ death and resurrection, and how that relates to salvation. Virtually every Protestant church does preach it, so there is no need for me to tell you to preach that message. Keep on doing it.
The fact that Jesus died for our sins is arguably the most important part of the Bible—but it is only part. If Jesus’ death is preached in isolation from all the rest of the Bible, it loses its power. Isolated from the rest of the Bible, some people can easily get the false impression that Jesus’ death pays the penalty for all sins committed by all people, regardless of whether or not they repent, regardless of whether or not they want to be saved. Don’t preach about Jesus’ death and resurrection to the exclusion of all else.
God gave us the whole Bible. If your church ignores most of it, you are ignoring most of what God wants everyone to know. Yes, you should say, “Jesus died for you;” but don’t stop there. Explain why Jesus had to die for you.
Don’t be ashamed to tell people that the Earth was created from nothing, in six days, roughly six thousand years ago. Adam and Eve were actual people. Their obedience was tested by what they ate, and they failed the test. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil no longer exists, so its forbidden fruit was replaced by other forbidden food. There are people today who, like Eve, think that God doesn’t mean what He says about forbidden fruit, and are disobediently eating the forbidden food.
Remind people that God was so displeased with humanity in Noah’s day that He destroyed nearly all life on Earth. Jesus confirmed what the Old Testament said about another global destruction coming in the future. He warned that it would happen when society becomes as corrupt as it was in Noah’s day. It is hard to argue that Noah’s society was much more evil then than ours is today.
The Ten Commandments are binding requirements—not legalistic rules that Jesus abolished. Everyone who loves God will obey them. People who don’t obey them don’t love God, no matter what they say. There is a test every week from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday to verify the sincerity of believers’ love. Most fail it. They put the human, anti-Semitic tradition of Sunday worship above God’s law.
We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. [1 John 2:3-6, NIV]
The Old Testament is filled with examples of how God’s chosen people failed to live up to God’s expectations. Those stories aren’t there to tell us how bad the Jews were. They are there to tell us how much we hurt God when we disobey the same way they did.
The prophets not only warned about the judgment that was coming on Israel and Judah—they warned about the judgment that is coming in our day. We need to pay more attention to the warning than the Children of Israel did.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. [2 Peter 3:10-14, NIV]
We should look forward to Judgment Day because that’s when we will finally be free from the oppression of our enemies.
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. [2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, NIV]
Daniel made some very specific prophecies about the rise and fall of world empires that history has shown to be perfectly accurate. These prophecies tell us that God knows the future, and is in control. These prophecies prove that the Bible must be divinely inspired. The Bible is not of human origin.
Revelation goes hand-in-hand with Daniel. The two books contain similar prophecies that explain each other. Studied together, these two books provide compelling evidence that we are, in fact, living in the period of time just before Jesus returns. Recognizing our immediate situation should inspire us to make the right choices.
The Psalms are inspirational songs which speak to our needs today. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain wisdom that is often ignored by modern congregations.
The New Testament is filled with epistles that were written to ancient churches, but contain timeless advice for churches today. For example,
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. [Colossians 3:5-14, NIV]
There are more than 30,000 verses in the Bible. So, as you might expect, there is a lot of repetition. Every major doctrine is repeated multiple times. Read the whole Bible through so that you will become familiar with the themes that are presented over and over. By reading only four or so pages per day you can read through the entire Bible in one year.
There are a few doctrines that are supported by only one verse, and only in the King James translation of that verse. Those doctrines either aren’t correct or aren’t important. Ignore them.
Read various translations and compare them with each other. Some of the words in the original language are obscure, and some phrases are ambiguous. Generally speaking, the Bible translators have done their best to render them accurately. However, translators occasionally disagree. This is not a problem because every true doctrine is repeated multiple times, so you can always find a clear, unambiguous statement of the doctrine somewhere else in the Bible. Don’t concern yourself with minor variations in translations.
It really all comes down to this: God is not going to bless and pour out the Holy Spirit on a church that isn’t fully committed to Him. There is no reason for Him to give power to a church that preaches Greek mythology, is anti-Semitic, and proclaims a false gospel that is nothing more than secular psychology in disguise.
If you really want God to work through your congregation, it has to do the work that God wants done. It’s just that simple (but it isn’t easy).
I can’t say it any better than Paul did.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. [Ephesians 4:17-32, NIV]
Your congregation will face strong opposition (from other Christians and atheists alike) if it rejects cherished traditions and opposes secular values; but your congregation must obey God rather than man. God decides what is right and what is wrong—not man. Morality is not determined by popular vote. In fact, when put to a vote, morality generally loses because mankind loves sin more than righteousness.
Preach the Ten Commandments as if they are commandments—not suggestions. If you call Jesus, “Lord,” then treat Him as your Lord. Keep His Sabbath holy. Don’t ordain priests who are living in open sin. Take a stand on moral issues, including sexual sins and abortion.
Proudly proclaim the fact that God created the world in six literal days roughly 6,000 years ago. It is a testimony to God’s power. It shows God’s love for us. The doctrine that Jesus is the Second Adam, who died to pay the penalty for our sin, is based upon the fact that the First Adam caused death by sinning.
God wants total commitment from you and your congregation. He expects you to give the first tenth of your increase to be donated to God’s causes. He expects you to devote the last seventh of your time to Him every week.
Serve the needs of your community. Provide food, or healthcare, or job training, family counseling, Christian education, assistance overcoming addictions, or whatever other needs your community might have.
Just as God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat certain food, He has commanded all of their descendants not to eat certain foods. It is the height of hypocrisy to blame Adam and Eve for eating the one thing God told them not to eat while eating the very things God has told you not to eat. Your congregation needs to know the distinction between clean and unclean foods and respond accordingly.
God doesn’t want a church that just talks about righteousness—He wants a church that practices righteousness. God will judge you and your congregation by what it does even more than by what it says.
God will revive your congregation if your congregation is willing to make the reforms God requires. God will give you the power to make those reforms, if you sincerely pray for that power.
When you do this, you must be prepared for persecution. Remember the warning words of Jesus, recorded by all four gospel writers.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. [John 15:18-20, NIV]
“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. [John 16:1-4, NIV]
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. [Matthew 10:34-39, NIV]
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” [Luke 12:51-53, NIV]
“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. [Mark 13:9-13, NIV]
If you study the Bible, you will not only know what to say to others, you will know what to say to yourself. The Holy Spirit will remind you of the words of Jesus only if you have read them first. Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will give you words to say is not an excuse not to study the Bible.
If something just pops into your mind, it could be from God—or it could be a deception of Satan. If you have studied the Bible, you will be able to distinguish which spirit has inspired that thought.
You can also take comfort in the words of Peter.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. [1 Peter 4:12-17, NIV]
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. [1Peter 3:14-18, NIV]
Finally, memorize (if you have not already) Paul’s encouraging words.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:31-39, NIV]
May God bless you and revive your church, sending your congregation out to witness for Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit in these last days before Jesus returns.
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