Monday, December 17, 2012

Marching Orders for a Backslidden Church

The text I have chosen for this morning is 1 Corinthians 16:13.  It is a short but really potent verse near the end of Paul's letter to that troubled church. And this is a verse that outlines itself. Four simple imperatives: be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  And there you have my outline in the exact words of the text itself. Four points, separated by commas.

I chose that text not merely because it sort of preaches itself, but mainly because this year I wanted to bring a word of encouragement and support to beleaguered pastors who are trying to minister faithfully in these troubled, difficult times.  It is hard to be biblical and faithful.  It is not at all easy.

The church of our generation is shot through with deep seated problems. The evangelical movement in particular is hopelessly confused, divided, frivolous, fleshly, man centered. Even some of today's best known and largest evangelical churches deliberately seem to cultivate irreverence, superficiality, worldliness, compromise, carnal behavior, infidelity, and sometimes even the rankest kinds of heresy. In a hundred different ways the contemporary evangelical movement is exactly like the church at Corinth. Every problem that plagued Corinth is a hallmark of the culture in which you and I are called to serve Christ.

And I don't know about you, but for me, it's actually a great encouragement to know that every major problem we have to deal with in the church of the 21st century, Paul likewise dealt with in Corinth. His epistles to that church are full of wise counsel and sound ministry philosophy for you and for me and the ministries in which we serve. And we need to pay close attention to Paul because, frankly, what he says about church leadership and ministry runs contrary to our natural instincts. And Paul’s advice to this church is certainly in conflict with the wisdom of this world, the fashions of our culture and even the self styled gurus of evangelical church growth.

Continue reading, download or listen to the full message by Phil Johnson here.

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