By Elizabeth Prata
Pastor James Bell is a pastor at Southside Baptist Church in Gallatin TN. He is one of the faithful pastors who labor diligently, outside of social media fame or Big Eva celebrity. He simply for 47 years has pastored in the same church, delivering the Good News week in and week out. He publishes a Grow in Grace newsletter, which I enjoy. It is always full of scripture and wisdom. Pastor Bell urges the recipients of the newsletter to use as we feel motivated, to share if we feel led or as a resource. I do share it now. Part 2 tomorrow.
Please use the Grow in Grace Newsletter for your own spiritual growth; and as a resource to help equip you to minister to others! Volume 47, No. 41, October 18, 2022 / Southside Baptist Church / P.O. Box 1594 / 1028 South Water Avenue, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615) 452-5951 / The Grow in Grace Newsletter is a weekly Bible Study, plus local church news notes— designed first and foremost for members and those attending services at Southside Church; and is sent forth with the desire to aid one and all, (including friends far and wide), in the experience of 2 Peter 3:18. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST!”
LABORING TOGETHER WITH JESUS!
(1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Amplified Bible) “I planted, Apollos watered, but God [all the while] was causing the growth. 7 So neither is the one who plants nor the one who waters anything, but [only] God who causes the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one [in importance and esteem, working toward the same purpose]; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.”
THE WORDS OF JESUS STILL STAND: “… I will build MY church; and the gates of hell [Hades: the powers of death] shall not prevail against it….” (Matthew 16:17-18) HOWEVER, the entire New Testament period WAS NOT filled with churches to whom the LORD WAS ADDING new converts every day, as was the case in Acts 2!
Why? For during the New Testament era and to our day,
THERE IS MUCH OPPOSITION:
- The preaching/teaching of Jesus and the Apostles DROVE, (and still drives!), MANY AWAY! (John 6:66-71; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 4:1-5)
- Just as Jesus warned in Mark 4:14-18— the work of satan, the reality of persecution, the cares of this life, and/or the love of money— these all REVEAL the lack of true conversion in many; and so they fall away.
- The Apostle John reported that there were many anti-Christs; and that they left the true congregations because they were false converts from the start! (1 John 2:15-19)
EVEN SO, none of the New Testament churches lamented, “Attendance was down last Sunday, we need a high attendance promotion!” AND: When the strong teaching of Jesus, (John 6:32-65), caused many who had been following Jesus to leave— Jesus did not panic or tell the few who stayed, “O gee, we had better do some CREATIVE PLANNING and develop a plan to appeal to the likes of the masses… such as PASSING OUT RUBBER DUCKS to Jeep owners!”[This is being done in 2022, in Tennessee!]
There is no evidence that Jesus or the New Testament church took a ‘poll’ to find out what the lost like so as to adapt church to the lost.
MOREOVER, they had no sports, no comedians, no entertainment, no advertising budget to be spent on endeavors designed to attract pagans— or to hold on to and bring back the carnal multitudes who previously attended!
GENUINE New Testament Christianity is radically different!
The Holy Spirit via the New Testament REPEATEDLY calls upon believers, (1) To not blaspheme the gospel by bad living! (2) To ADORN the gospel by Christ-like living! (3) To live lives of loving one another! (4) In addition, Jesus, in Revelation 2-3, reveals that which He likes; that which He commands; and that which He rejects… and HEEDING JESUS in these matters is KEY, if a church is to be truly effective!
IN ADDITION, The Acts of the Apostles overflows with teaching and examples as to the methods of JESUS
IN BUILDING HIS CHURCH:
(1) Persecution of the church led to a church-wide prayer meeting with the results being a fresh advance of the kingdom of God— See Acts 4:23-33!
(2) Sin by church members led to severe chastening [SUDDEN DEATH!] with the end result being another fresh advance of the kingdom of God— Acts 5:1-14!
(3) Neglect of some church members and murmuring in the church led to the appointment of special servants to minister to the Greek widows with the ultimate result being yet another fresh advance of the kingdom of God— Acts 6:1-7!
(4) Bold preaching brought martyrdom and persecution which yielded yet another fresh advance of the kingdom of God— Acts 7:1-60; 8:1-4!
SO, WHEN JESUS SAYS, “I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH!” … FRANKLY, am I ready for His ways?? BUT O THE SIMPLICITY and power WHEN WE ARE LABORERS TOGETHER WITH GOD:
In a New Testament Church, the believers simply have to stick to the business of manifesting the love of Christ; holy Christian living; and boldly proclaiming the gospel to the world— and GOD will add to the church as He pleases! (John 13:34-35; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 3:6-11)
(5) AND, in the first century NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH, when needs and problems came up, THEY PRAYED! There was always an answer and the answer was always from the LORD— normally in specific answer to prayer! (Acts 4:23-33; 12:5-12)
Grace and Peace in our LORD JESUS CHRIST! James Bell