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Informed Doesn’t Equal Transformed

October 8, 2007

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There are some really positive things happening today in segments of my tribe and the religious world in general. When ever you throw off the chains of legalism, and allow yourself to think outside the box that tradition created for you, that can be a good thing. I am hearing more and more about “kingdom living”, and realizing that we are indwelt by the Spirit, and that our motive for service is that “God presence” with us, along with the gratitude we feel in our hearts for what has been done for us that we could not do for ourselves.

While there have been some good changes, without question more change needs to come. But there are some things I hope we don’t change. I hope we don’t change our emphasis on knowing the scripture. One of the great strengths of the restoration movement was that it was led by men who knew the scripture. That was a proud tradition of my tribe when I was growing up as well. But today I am seeing less of an emphasis on the individual responsibility and more of a dependence upon a corporate kind of knowledge. I am seeing more of an event oriented approach to teaching as opposed to individual discipleship. What I am referring to is more than teaching people the Bible…imparting information…I am talking about teaching that results in transformation of character.

I have always been impressed with Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel in and from Ephesus. Note these few verses from Acts. 19: 8-10 “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. ” Paul followed his custom of beginning in the Synagogue, but ends up in a lecture hall. The result of his two year stay was that all of Asia heard the Gospel. I am convinced that more was happening here than just transferring information from one person to another. Informed doesn’t mean transformed. Paul was taking pagans and turning them into disciples willing to put it all on the line for the Master. Read the verses that follow the ones above and see how Luke describes the results of Paul’s labors.

In Matthews account of what we call “The Great Commission” Jesus said, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt. 28:18-20. Note he did not say make converts, or just baptize any and all who came. He said “make disciples” and when that mindset is present, “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

The group that has come to be known as the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), has it roots in our tribe. They did not start out as a cult. Many of the principles they used in the early days were not only valid, they were and are Biblical! That whole scenario is a classic example of throwing the baby our with the bath water. For fear of being associated with a cult, we just quit thinking about practicing discipleship at all! Discipleship is not a dirty word. To convey the concept today I prefer the term apprentice. Apprentices learn by being taught, watching the work being done, and they learn by doing.

When Paul meets with the elders from the church in Ephesus here is what he said about his time with them, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:21-21. Did you catch that? He taught them that they must “turn to God in repentance” I don’t think anyone in his right mind would not want to go to Heaven, but repentance…well that may be a different matter. Repentance brings transformation of character.

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3 comments

  1. Lee,
    Excellent post brother.
    I am always telling my congregation that there is a difference in knowing about Christ and knowing Christ.
    Excellent post. I hope you have a great weeek. God bless you.


  2. Good stuff Lee. Thanks.


  3. Preacher and Darin, always great to hear from you!



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