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Firing Up the Church

 

 
EVANGICAL MENONITE CONFERENCE
Message One
 
Introduction
 
We live in a day of passionless, feckless, muted Christianity. Many people in their churches have lost passion for ministry. One reason is that they have lost confidence in certainty of Christianity. If we are uncertain about truth, lack of confidence and conviction follows.
 
There are three essential elements in the dynamic Christian life: logos, ethos, and pathos—all three, and not one at the expense of the other. It is logos (truth) that produces ethos (standards) and pathos (passion). Without logos or truth, the church will lose its fire and passion and flame out.
 
 
I.               FIRE UP THE CHURCH BY LOGOS (CERTAINTY)
 
Divine Viewpoint Fires Up Certainty, 1 Corinthians 2:4
 
There is a strong relationship of passion/fire to truth/conviction. The reason churches do not grow has little to do with method or technique or culture, it has to do with conviction, certainty, and truth.
 
Certainty comes ultimately through God’s Word and Spirit. This is a supernatural foundation for knowledge.
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom (by-product), but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (product), 1 Co 2:1-4
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power
When Paul came to Corinth, he did not rest on speaking ability. Corinthians put a premium on the façade of false rhetoric. It was the Holy Spirit who persuaded the Corinthians to the certainty of Christ. Paul proclaimed and the Holy Spirit persuaded.
The word “demonstration” carries the idea of proof. The Holy Spirit presents evidence that convinces. This is the polar opposite of the façade of false rhetoric. The Greek indicates this proof is incontrovertible. The Holy Spirit makes the propositions of Scripture unassailable.
When God revealed himself, all pursuit of truth about him comes to a dead end. God’s truth is external to evidence or philosophy. Because man is a creature, his constitution is limited to come to certainty. If he begins with himself, all he has is wishful thinking and probability. Operation bootstraps cannot come to certainty. Biblical faith does not rest on shifting opinions of men. If we think that certainty begins with self, we will never come to certainty. Since certainty is an illumination of the Holy Spirit, God awakens that through his effectual calling. It comes from the hand of God by revelation.
 
Characterized by Confidence, Philippians 1:3-8
 
Paul in Philippians 1:6 was confident of the principle of the providence of God. He was confident and came to settled conviction that God would complete his work in the Philippian church. God never starts anything that he cannot finish. He will work either in us or on us but he will finish the job. Paul had complete confidence in that.
 
Clement of Rome declares that the Christian apostles “went forth with a full conviction which was of the Holy Spirit” (1 Clement 42:3, 4).
 
Irenaeus insisted that “Without God, God is not known.”
 
Calvin declared that “God cannot be worshipped in doubt.”
 
II.            FIRE UP THE CHURCH BY ETHOS (STANDARDS)
First Thessalonians 1:5 sets forth four indispensable spheres that make the gospel atour de force. Each of these four factors is crucial for effective evangelism. Each feature begins by the word “in.” The four uses of “in” in this verse show what makes the gospel effective.
…because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 1 Thessalonians 1:5
for our gospel did not come to you in word only,
Many evangelicals have lost anchor in the Word of God. We cannot find certainty in the dogmas of man. The power of our message is in the message, not the messenger.
The gospel team came communicating in the sphere of speaking the content of the gospel message. If we are serious about spreading the gospel effectively, we first give people content to believe. An unalterable standard is to set forth the gospel in clear terms. The only way to do this is with words. Everything is secondary to the proclamation of God’s saving message.
but also
However, the gospel involves more than communication of its content. The spoken word is necessary, but it is not enough if it stands alone. It might be possible to teach a parrot to speak the words of the gospel. Anyone can mechanically give out the facts of the gospel.
The word “but” is emphatic in the Greek. The Holy Spirit wants us to see that the gospel is more than careful clarification of its facts. The presentation of the gospel requires three more divine features: “power,” “the Holy Spirit” and “much assurance.” We restrict the dynamics of the gospel if we employ only two of these spheres. Three are better but we need all four dynamic spheres if we want to make a full impact. If we dial only three numbers on a safe of four combinations, it will not open. We need to dial all four numbers to open the safe. Four standards are necessary in God’s economy. By executing all four spheres mentioned in this verse, we make the greatest impact with the gospel. We do not need to blast open the safe when we use the combination but gently pull open the door.
in power,
We have the word “in” a second of four times in this verse expressing the second standard. The word “power” is the word for inherent power. This power goes beyond human capacity because it influences men supernaturally.
and in the Holy Spirit
The third occurrence of the word “in” is “in the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit can reach into the hearts of people where the mere dead words of man cannot reach.
and in much assurance,
This is the fourth use of “in.” The gospel communicators came with conviction when they came to Thessalonica. People who powerfully advance the gospel in the world are people of strong conviction.
III.FIRE UP THE CHURCH BY PATHOS (CONVICTION)
 
People look at serving in the church as “a responsibility, a duty.” They do not go to church with an anticipation of serving and making a difference for eternity. Paul had to remind Timothy to Fire it Up.
For this reason [cause—Paul about to die] I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands… 2 Timothy 1:6
Paul challenged Timothy to “fan [his gift] into flame.” The words “fan into flame” means to rekindle. This word is a compound term: rekindle and anew. The word “anew” indicates that the flame had grown low.
 
Timothy’s fire had not gone completely out; there were a few embers still burning. We need to blow on the embers; otherwise, our service will be like smoldering ashes than dancing flames. Keep your service hot.
 
Conclusion
 
Passionate people:
 
·       Are not afraid to stand alone
·       Do not care if their motives were misinterpreted.
·       Consider everything a loss for the sake of the truth.
·       People of one thing.
·       Are wide awake, and so awakened others.
·       Are all on fire, and so they lighted others.
Wesley was once asked how he got the crowds. He replied, “I set myself on fire, and the people come to see me burn.”
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