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4

Elisha is lying in his death bed.

As he lies there, the king, Jehoash, comes to visit him and weeps over this great man of God.

What follows is striking.

Elisha tells the king to pick up a bow and arrow, open the window and shoot toward the East, toward their enemy, Aram. Elisha held his hand over the hand of the king while he shoots. Israel had been warring against Aram and losing territory to them for generations, with a few small victories here and there. Elisha tells the king, this arrow is the arrow of the Lord’s victory.

Then the dying prophet tells Jehoash to take the arrows and beat them on the ground. The king picked up the arrows and hit the ground three times and stopped.

The kings lack of enthusiasm angers Elisha.

So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times." - 2 Kings 13:19 NASB

===

Do you see how the Lord’s desire, as express by the prophet, was for the complete eradication of their enemy, their oppressors? It was in God’s plan to completely deliver Israel from the bondage and constant struggle against this enemy. But the Lord God Almighty’s deliverance would only come through the partnership with the king’s passion.

I often hear Christians talking about God’s ability to intervene in their circumstances. They think along these lines.

God is sovereign and in control. If He wanted to heal me, he could. He could let me win the lottery. He could fix my relationships, or get me a job, or—insert your solution here.

But in the case of king Jehoash, God was looking for the king to be as passionate about this victory as The Lord was.

God tells us to pray, and we throw up a two-second, “oh Lord help,” prayer.

God puts on our hearts to give, and we drop five bucks in an offering plate.

God stirs us to love our neighbor and we wave to them over the fence.

What would it look like for us to be all-in? How much greater could the Lord’s victories be if we completely gave ourselves to this partnership?

Take those arrows and beat the ground with them till there is nothing left of them.

Go after what God has put in your heart with everything you have and everything you are.

I hope this stirs you up. It’s stirring me up. I’m guilty of half measures, but I’m turning that around. Join me, will you?

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Keep the light on.

Ben

5

There is no way to
get rid of this kind of
demon except by prayer.
Mark 9:29

Help My Doubts

Father of a Demon-Possessed Boy

I remember the doctor saying to us, years ago, “Keep a record of his bad days.” My son—my eight-year-old boy—Enoch and I visited the doctor often in those first days. It’s been another eight years since we stopped going to doctors. For seven of them, we’ve found it easier to record the good days than count the bad.

The first sign the demonic attack has begun—we now know it’s a demon—is Enoch’s eerie silence. His eyes glaze over and it seems like he has gone away. He can’t hear—or at least he doesn’t respond to sound—and never speaks.

In the beginning, we thought he was sick. My wife, Havah, and I took him to our family doctor in the village. At first, this demon did not awaken while we were with the doctor, so he didn't know how to help. Enoch, couldn’t tell the doctor much. He couldn't remember what happened during his episodes. He just fell—no—not fell—it was like being thrown to the floor. Then he rolled around the ground as stiff as a board,  foaming at the mouth. If there was anything dangerous nearby, like fire, or water, or a steep drop, he’d head right for it.

Our third visit to the doctor was after a furious episode where Enoch found his way right into an open fire. It scorched more than half the skin on his left side. The doctor said he could  treat the burn, but he told us we should see a priest or rabbi. He didn’t think Enoch had any disease.

“This boy is possessed by a devil, and I can’t help you,” he told us as he gave us some salve for his burns.

After that, we went from rabbi to rabbi, each one shrugged his shoulders and wished he could do more.

It’s been seven years of rabbis and priests. We’ve given special offerings at the temple and paid for professional intercessors. We’ve gone to every house of prayer in Judea. Once we even traveled up to the temple at Shechem in Samaria to see if they could help us.

About a year ago, I started hearing stories of a rabbi from Galilee who was casting out demons and healing the sick. At first, I didn’t want Enoch and Havah to get their expectations aroused, but as the stories multiplied my heart began to hope.

One of my neighbors returned from a visit with some family up north near Tiberius. He told me of a pair of Jesus’ disciples going through the town. They were healing the sick and casting out demons in the streets. I’ve know Ari for many years, and he wouldn’t repeat these stories if there were any doubt in his mind. He was there. He saw men and women healed before his eyes, even some possessed by demons like my boy.

That’s when I started planning. I didn’t tell my wife, or even my son, what I was really up to. I didn’t want to lie to either of them. I just told Havah I wanted some time alone with my boy. I started planning for a trip with Enoch to find this Healer. I would tell Him my boy’s story. If He refused or couldn’t help, the disappointment would only fall on me.

I learned that He had been seen teaching and healing near Cana up in Galilee, so I packed our things and Enoch and I headed north.

Traveling with Enoch is no holiday. Everywhere we go, we have to be prepared to deal with his oppressor. This trip was no exception. In fact, the spirit's brutality the first night made me think we were might be headed in the right direction. The vile captor in Enoch’s young body protested more than ever. We didn’t sleep at all the first night we were on the road. Before I even had the fire burning hot enough to cook some dinner, he was flailing around and smothered it, at great cost to his own flesh. It was a grueling three days and two nights.

When we got close, someone told us the Teacher was on Mount Tabor. So we followed the road down from Cana to the east. As we approached the mountain, we found crowds at the base. I expected this. The accounts I’ve heard always have large crowds around this Healer.

It was nearly sundown when we came upon a few of the Healer’s disciples surrounded by dozens of on-lookers. They had just healed a couple of blind men. Next, they were laying hands on a lame woman lying on a sort of mat in the middle of the group. As we pressed our way into the center of the gathering, we saw this woman on the bed getting to her feet. Then she started jumping and running around the circle of spectators.

The disciples looked almost as stunned as the no-longer-bedridden woman. One of these men called out, “It’s the name of Jesus that heals the sick and delivers anyone in bondage.”

We had found Him.

I started waving frantically, crying out “My son, help my son!” I must have looked a little mad myself. I began to tell my son’s story to the one they were calling Andrew. There were three other groups like the one I was in, each surrounding what looked like a few disciples.

"I'm Andrew," said the man who was speaking, "and this is Simon the Zealot."

As soon as I began to describe Enoch’s condition, my son flew to the ground. I had my back to him, so I didn’t see the warning signs. I would have steered him away from the crowd before he went it to the full display of fury that is my son’s daily reality.

He was rocking back and forth, jerking up and down, six inches into the air and then slammed down again, rolling over so the foam covering his mouth was full of the Galilean dirt. Andrew and Simon hurried over to him and began to command the demon to come out.

“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out,” they called.

Nothing changed. They said it a little louder. “In the name of Jesus, come out.”

They asked others in the crowd to hold him still while they prayed for him, laying their hands on his head and chest.

He thrashed and freed his arms. Then began slashing at them with his fists and scratching with his fingernails.

Andrew and Simon called two of the other disciples over to them and they started out the same way.

“In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, come out.”

Nothing.

I have to say, they didn’t give up. The sky grew fully dark and the air chilled as this failed exorcism went on into the night.

Finally, sometime after midnight, I took Enoch away from the crowd and we found a quiet place to get some rest. He had been in full manifestation for hours, and when he finally calmed, he was ready to sleep.

The sun was already well above the horizon when we awoke. The commotion that woke us was the arrival of Jesus and three more of his followers. They had apparently spent the night on the mountain. I’d never seen anything like Jesus. He was glowing—glowing! It wasn’t just the sun shimmering off his robes. The light emanated from Him.

As we approached Andrew called to Jesus, “Here they are Mater. We did everything you taught us and nothing changed.”

Once I realized that Jesus was right there, I said, “Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn’t.

Jesus said “What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here."

Andrew took Enoch by the hand and led him to the Master.

The demon in my boy did his worst. He slammed him to the ground with no warning whatsoever. He pushed him right into a nearby fire. He convulsed and foamed and moaned, teeth grinding and eyes wild.

Jesus asked, “How long has this been going on?

Ever since he was a little boy,” I replied. "Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!"

Jesus’s eyes looked eager. “If?” He responded. “There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen."

That brought me up short. “I do believe;” I blurted, but then I wondered if I did, so I added, “Help me with my doubts!

I think the crowd knew something big was about to happen because they started to press in. Some just realizing that Jesus was back, others hearing the conversation. Everyone wanting to see what He would do.

"Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!" Jesus spoke directly to the spirit who had tormented my son—my whole family—for the last eight years.

Enoch cried out, lifted off the ground and then fell back down with a thud. This time not rigid, as in times past, but more like a rag doll, begin tossed away. He lay there for what seemed an eternity. The crowd started murmuring.

He’s dead.”

“He killed the boy.”

Jesus walked over to Enoch, leaned down and grabbed his hand and pulled. At that moment, Enoch’s eyes opened, the color came back into his face. He nearly bounced up off the ground. With his hand in the hand of the Healer, he looked more alive than he had since the evil first took him. The joy was back in his eyes, the joy of a child with a future.

The two days traveling home seemed like a dream to both of us. In every village, at every meal, we shared our story with everyone we met. We were not just witnesses to a miracle. We were changed by our short visit with Jesus. His Words changed my boy and turned my hope into an unshakable faith.

My Havah could hardly believe her eyes. One look at Enoch’s countenance told the whole story. My son was bound, but now his chains are gone. His captivity is over. He’s free!

Messiah truly has come in our day.

~~~
To read the original story, see Mark 9:15-30. Quotes come from the Message Bible.

Copyright - Benjamin Nelson - 2016

Encounters With Jesus - Available Now
Encounters With Jesus - Available Now

If you enjoyed this story you can find forty more in my book Encounters With Jesus. It takes the reader from Christ's conception to His resurrection through the eyes of dozens who were touched by His ministry.

You can get your copy today in paperback or kindle on Amazon. If you want both you can get the Kindle version for only 99c when you buy the paperback on Amazon.

9

Here are some red letters that really thrill me.

Join me in Mark 1 today and let’s think about what Jesus said in these three little words. But first ... a little context.

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." - Mark 1:40-41 NASB

Jesus ran into people every day during His ministry years. It is in fact why He came, to seek and to save the lost, to run into people and bring the kingdom of heaven into their lives. No two of the folks He encountered were alike. It was not as though everyone who came to Him for a miracle came with the same level of faith and expectation.

Some knew deep inside that if they could reach Him, they would find healing, like the woman with the issue of blood.

for she was saying to herself, "If I only touch His garment, I will get well." - Matthew 9:21 NASB

Some were not even sure He had any power whatsoever.

"It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!" - Mark 9:22 NASB

Some understood He was not limited to proximity, and could heal across the miles like the centurion.

But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. - Matthew 8:8 NASB

So what about this leper we meet in Mark 1? He had a concern I often hear voiced in Evangelical circles. It’s common thought today that Jesus can still heal and does still heal, but it is linked to some sort of whim or fancy or divine fiat. We come to the Lord in prayer asking for healing as though we hoping He’s in a good mood and might just condescend to do us a little favor and heal our loved one.

This phrase only comes up five times in the NASB and three of them are three accounts of this event. One is when Jesus is talking about John the baptist, explaining that he was Elijah who would come. The only other time we hear this phrase is in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus cries out to the Father:

saying, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." - Luke 22:42 NASB

Many have adopted this phrase as part of their prayer life.

Here’s the thing.

Jesus answered the question.

He answered this man in no uncertain terms.

He could have simply healed the leper to demonstrate His will without saying a word.

But Jesus—the Word of God—the very Will of God incarnate—the express image of God—Jesus—answered.

I am willing!

And if this doesn’t answer it for you with enough clarity, look at His ministry. He healed all who came to Him. Time after time we see Him heal them all.

The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. - Matthew 4:24 NASB

But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, - Matthew 12:15 NASB

We are not calling out to God for something unclear, or something unprecedented.

Jesus, in the Garden, placed Himself into a circumstance we could never see. He was facing separation from the Father, He was facing the cup of God’s wrath stored up against all our sin and the prospected was horrifying.

This is not our case when the come to the Lord Jesus for our healing. He told us His name is Jehovah Rapha - the Lord our Healer.

I understand that when we are talking about our future James tells us to leave it in the Lord’s hands.

Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." - James 4:15 NASB

But James is not teaching us to pray. He’s talking about our attitude toward life.

Jesus Christ who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, said without hesitation:

"I am willing; be cleansed." - Matthew 8:3 NASB

Hallelujah! (That’s a place for shouting!)

cropped-BenHeadshot.jpgThanks for coming by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

10

As I ponder the last days of Jesus’ life, there’s one phrase that gets me every time. Jesus is surrounded by a Roman cohort, the temple big wigs, and his own disciples. Melee breaks out. Swords clash and ears fly (OK - ear flies.)

Jesus looks at Peter and tells him to put away the sword. Then He asks Peter one of the most significant and telling questions of His ministry (and He has asked a lot of questions!)

Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? - Matthew 26:53 NASB

Or as I like to translate it - “Don’t you know I could pray?”

In all of Jesus’ healing ministry one thing is lacking - He never prayed for the sick. He took authority over sickness and disease. There were times when He looked to heaven and thanked His Father for what the He was about to do. But Jesus never made an appeal to heaven in the working of a miracle.

It’s not that He didn’t pray though. The way I understand it from Jesus words, He spent time with the Father daily—went off early and often to pray and be alone with the Father. In His time in communion with Abba, the Father would show Him things Jesus would face that day, or in the future, and Jesus would submit to the Father’s priorities. Every day Jesus answered the call afresh and anew—Here am I, send me!

In fact, He had just spent three hours appealing to the Father, and received the resounding “NO” of heaven. He was coming out of the very first prayer He had ever uttered that God denied.

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." - Matthew 26:39 NASB

Yet this does not change His confidence. He knew that He knew that a single request—one simple petition—would bring all of heaven to His defense.

I don’t pray like that. My heart doesn’t rise up and say, “Don’t you know I could pray?”

But it should.

Why shouldn’t I have the same confidence in my heavenly Father. Why, when faced with seeming impossibility, don’t I look it in the eye and tell that old liar, “Back off! Don’t you know I could pray?”

I repent!

Lord, from this day, I ask You to forgive my prayerlessness and help me know the Father as You know Him. Grant me the place of prayer. Give me confidence in the power of prayer. Give me the boldness to stand up and say, “Don’t you know I could pray?”

BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Walk in the light,

Ben

4

Corinne (my sweet wife) and I went to see War Room last night with some brothers and sisters from our home church. This film surpassed my expectations in so many ways. Sometimes "christian" films leave me a bit underwhelmed, but not so with War Room.

Many "christian" films have as their target the unsaved population who might accidentally end up in the audience. They spend their hard-earned currency with not so believable sermonettes hoping someone with pray the prayer before they leave the theater.

Don't get me wrong. War Room gives space for clear declaration that Jesus wants to be Lord of your life, but the gospel is demonstrated rather than spoken in most cases.

The fact that this film was written more to Christians captivated me. The film uses compelling story telling to teach the principals of spiritual warfare to the world of faith. I'm sure many will find Jesus through this film. But I know this--it's largest impact will show up in closets of Christians all across the land. I am stirred up about prayer--I am motivated to renew my prayer life--this film preached to me! It teaches line upon line how to think about prayer--and how to do it. It exposes some of the schemes of the enemy. How satan sets us against each other, so as to leave him free to do his will. Brilliant!

When leaving a film from this genre, I often think "that was nice, but I wouldn't bring my unsaved friends to see it." Last night I left feeling that every Christian should see this film, and their unsaved friends would begin to see the gospel lived out--loved out--right in front of their eyes.

If you can manage it--get out and see this film.

In the words of Larry the Cucumber: I laughed; I cried; It moved me Bob.

BenHeadshotBlessings,

See you again soon,

Ben

PS--The quotes around christian above come from my disdain for things to be called christian. There really is no such thing as christian music, or christian films, or even christian books. There are Christians. These are folks who have been rescued from this present evil age, who have changed their citizenship from earthly to heavenly. Just one of my pet peeves. Forgive me, please?

8

 

Colossians 1 has one of those wonderful “Paul prayers.”

Join me today in praying for someone who the Lord has put on your heart. I am using the pronoun ‘him,’ but you can obviously substitute ‘her’ or a persons name.

That you may be filled with the knowledge of His will…

I pray he would know with the same depth that he is known by You, Your will for him, not just what You wants him to do, but who You have made him to be.

…in all spiritual wisdom…

I pray he would not derive his motivation today from his natural tendencies, but he would hear the wisdom that comes from the Spirit of the Holy one that dwells in him, in whom he dwells.

…and understanding…

As he move in You today, he would see what Your hope is for him, that the eyes of his understanding would clarify Your call in him, and that he would see how his gifts and talents were to be deployed to glorify You, Jesus, today.

…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…

His day would be full of faith actions, led by the Spirit, doing that which well re-presents You, the way You walked and Your actions re-presented the Father’s good pleasure.

…to please Him in all respects…

That every aspect of his day would draw the Lord’s pleasure. That he, like Jesus, would increase in favor with You today.

…bearing fruit in every good work…

Not only would his labor be pleasing to the Lord and edifying to him, it would be fruitful, bringing a harvest of character in his life, and a harvest of souls into eternal life (the knowing of the Father and the Son – John 17:3)

…and increasing in the knowledge of God…

Lord, increase him in knowing You. Not in the knowing of facts, but in intimacy with You. Though he may see You as through a glass darkly, let there be a deeper, clearer knowing of Your heart, Your will, Your intentions.

…strengthened with all power…

Father, let the supernatural of Your presence inside shine forth in wonders beyond his expectation.

…according to His glorious might…

Let his works reflect the size of Your works, Father, and the magnitude of Your power and not just the size of his faith.

…for the attaining of all steadfastness…

Allow the wonders You work in him to increase his faithfulness to you. Allow Your presence in his life to create a supernaturally strong link between You and him.

…and patience…

Let Your faithfulness to him create patience in his life equipping and enabling him to wait on you without murmuring and complaining as You do Your work in him day by day.

…joyously giving thanks to the Father …

Let there be joy in his day as He recognizes your hand and opens his mouth with thanksgiving to you.

…,who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

I thank you that You have qualified him, by Your blood, Your death and resurrection, to be a partaker of the divine nature, that Your presence in him qualifies him to know you and receive from you all that he needs for life and godliness.

Colossians 1:9-12

BenBlessings,

Ben

4

GreaterGlory

What follows is an excerpt from a paper my daughter, Jessica Joy Brigante, wrote while at Seminary.

===

I consider prayer to be a simple word to describe communication with God. But communication is complicated and multi-faceted.

With strangers and acquaintances, I communicate with small talk – simple words and phrases, nothing deep.

With close friends, there is emotion, a deeper sharing of the heart, and a different collection of words with various meanings, as well as body language that communicates meaning. There might be emails, letters, gifts, phone calls, hugs, etc.

With my family, there is a history of communication. There are inside jokes that reference memories in a way no one else would understand.

With my husband, my intimate partner, all of these forms of communication are used, and more. We communicate with a love language of sounds that we don’t share with others. Our movements mean more to each other than others might notice. We know each other’s thoughts, at times. We communicate in myriad ways.

Communication with God is even more complex. Prayer is not just words and formulas for how to ask for what I want. Prayer is a language of the heart and of the soul even more than a language of the mind and body. It encompasses all aforementioned forms of communication, and beyond. And God communicates with humans in infinite ways: through thoughts; through feelings of comfort, peace, and joy; through music, poetry, and various art forms; through natural phenomena, weather, and beauty; through prophecy; through biblical texts, and the writings of ancient and contemporary people; through the actions of others; through logic and understanding; through abstract ideas… the list could go on.

Prayer is a matter of lifestyle and personality, of relationship and love. Formulas and formats may be a starting place, but they cannot begin to reach the depths or facets of a life in relationship with God.

jessJessica Joy Brigante

 

1

John 17:1, 9, 24 

Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, ...

I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; ...

Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:1, 9, 24 NASB

Jesus’ prayer - gives us a window into Our Savior’s heart. Here, we glimpse His deepest longings. The word “glory” appears nine times. “I glorify You, Father.” “You have glorified me, Father.” “I have given them the glory that You gave me, Father.” Glory seems to be the love-language between the Father and the Son, and in God’s embrace of us, we too have a share in that glory. Isn’t that glorious?

Well, what does the Glory of God look like? Evidently, glory takes on a different appearance on earth as it does in heaven. In heaven, Jesus shared the majestic manifest glory of His Father, as King of heaven, worshiped by angels from everlasting to everlasting. In coming to earth, He traded this manifest glory for a different kind of glory – the glory of obedience to His Father’s will. Was He any less glorious when He lay in a feeding trough, when He touched lepers, when He knelt to wash men’s filthy feet, when He was spit upon, beaten and nailed to a cross? No. This is the glory of obedience.

This is the glory we get to share here and now: Giving glorious pleasure to Our Father’s heart as He watches us walk this earth in obedience to His Word and His Will, glorifying Jesus Christ before men. God’s glory was the deepest longing of Jesus’ heart. May His glory be the deepest longing of our hearts as well.

By Christa Grajcar, PBC Small Group Leader

===

This is another entry from our 47 day pre-Easter prayer guide. Christa is a dear sister in the Lord, and a wonderful servant of Jesus. She models to the body of Christ what it means to die to self and live for Him.

There is a deep revelation in her word, - simple (not to be confused with easy) obedience demonstrates the glory of God in us.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

2

Thanks to Pastor J. Lillie from Lillie-put. Pastor J. is blogging all the time, and has a wealth of great writings and photography. This is his photo, which I have borrowed gratefully.

I am so glad you asked! For your three "WHY"s I will give you three outstanding purposes the Church serves, both in the life of the believer and in the plans of God. Here they are in no particular order.

Equipping the Saints

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:11-16

Here we have a description of the gifts of Christ. This “He” points specifically to Jesus rather than to the Holy Spirit, which is interesting in itself. The Spiritual gifts as detailed in other passages such as 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and Romans 12:6-8 manifest in activities that the Spirit empowered Christian might “do,” whereas these gifts in Ephesians 4 speak more of a positional gifting.

I take the time to mention this, because the evangelist mentioned above certainly does evangelism, but moreover, his roll in the body of Christ is to equip others to do the work of evangelism. The Pastor not only shepherds the flock, but trains others and gives them the tools they need to walk out the life of a sheep.

God assembles local bodies and gives gifts to these bodies for our equipping.

Check out the language here –
equipping the saints for the work of service
attain to the unity of the faith
attain to … knowledge of the Son of God
attain to … a mature man
grow up in all aspects into Him
growth of the body
building itself in love

This is one of the main reasons we join together with other believers. These people are in part a fulfillment of His precious and magnificent promises which help us to become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that our lusts bring to the table.

seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

House of Prayer

When Jesus dumped the tables of the moneychangers in the temple, and drove out those who were buying and selling, he said:

And He began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS'? But you have made it a ROBBERS' DEN." Mark 11:17 NASB

When He spoke of the physical temple, it was a type of the true temple of God – His people. This is another function of the body of Christ. We are to pray for one another, and pray for those not yet in Christ, the world, and the coming of the kingdom on Earth as in Heaven.

Mission

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20

This passage is often called the Great Commission. We have looked at what the Church does within its own doors, but the great work of the Church is the mission Christ gave us. When the scripture says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” the ‘Go’ here is better understood ‘as you go’ or ‘as you carry on with your activities.’ The real command in the commission is ‘make disciples.’

Sometimes we Christians get our rolls reversed. Jesus told us that He would ‘build the Church.’ His instruction to us is to ‘make disciples.’ Notice He does not tell us to make converts. Rather we are to make disciples. A disciple is a learner under discipline, a student, a follower. Paul said imitate me as I imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

In summary, the purpose of this One True Church comes down to this, that all men might know Him and be conformed to His image. [Tweet This]

We equip those in Christ to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers (whom we have equipped)
We go into the harvest and make followers
We equip those followers to do the work of the ministry.
We pray the Lord of the harvest...

Well – you get the idea.

Thanks so much for coming.

Ben NelsonI hope these studies on the Church are an encouragement to you.

See you again soon.

Ben

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