Summary: Open Doors Being a Gospel Centered People
Being a Gospel Centered People
1 Cor 16:5-11
November 17, 2013
We started this series in Colossians, where Paul tells us to walk in wisdom toward those who do not know Christ by making the best use of our time. With this in mind, Paul asked the Colossian church to pray that God would open a door to declare the gospel. Then we looked at Luke 13 and saw that the gospel is narrow, that Jesus is the only way to God. In John 4, we saw an open door by way of a divine appointment, God weaving two lives together for a divine purpose, the gospel. Last week we looked at Acts 18 and saw how Paul contextualized his message, adapting the gospel to the culture without changing it's essential nature. We also saw Paul's motivation for the gospel, the Lord of the harvest promises to exert his influence to draw his people to himself. This week we conclude this series by looking at the tension between maintaining the centrality of the God's mission and ministry to God's people, the church.
The Ministry Needs of the Church are Always Pressing (5-7)
Paul, concerned about the church, wants to go to Corinth to strengthen it not just because he was an apostle but because Jesus gripped his life and changed him from hating and destroying the church to loving the church and dying for the church just like Jesus. The church was central to his life because it it was central to Jesus' life. Jesus loves the church, Jesus died for the church, and Jesus presently lives for the church. Every church must be fight against the tendency to spend all their resources on the ministries that focus on the church body and neglect the larger mission of God. We can become so inward focused that we have no real outward focus toward the community. This is why I regularly look at our ministries to ensure they line up with our vision.
The Misson of the Church Must Remain Central (8-9)
Paul decided to stay in Ephesus because a wide door for effective work had opend to him. Let's quickly review what he means by an open door by looking at the four references in the New Testament that speak of an open door.
• In Colossians, Paul asked the church to “pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word that I may make it clear. He is asking for prayer that God would work in those who do not know Christ and also work in him as he shares the gospel.
• At the end of his first missionary journey, Paul reported to the church in Antioch about what God had done, "they declared how God had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." God opened a door and the result was faith.
• In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes his itinerary like this: "I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me." Here the open door is a set of circumstances or a receptivity that is making Paul's work unusually fruitful.
• In 2 Corinthians Paul says, "When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, a door was opened for me." Again, the open door was uncommon set of circumstances that would have been very effective for the gospel.
To summarize, when we pray, God changes circumstances and attitudes and receptivity for the gospel so that instead of hitting a brick wall, the gospel finds an open door and becomes unusually effective. Lives transformed by the gospel can also open doors. Paul tells us to walk in wisdom toward those do not know Christ. And Jesus said to let our light shine before others so they see our good deeds and give glory to God. I think both Jesus and Paul mean that our lives are meant to authenticate and validate the gospel message. In the evangelism training yesterday, I said that there are two basic models of doing church in the west. The most common model is the attractional model which has a 'come to us' mentality. So churches puts great emphasis on the Sunday services and the programs of the church. The downside is that this model can reinforce a consumer mentality so prevalent in our culture so the average person only comes as long as their needs are met or in worse case scenario, as long as they are entertained. The other downside can be that the building becomes the center of ministry instead of the people of God. In the New Testament, the people of God become the temple so that the people are now the center of ministry, not the building. Everyone becomes a functioning member of the church, the people are a life giving community who are the light of the world, and a city on a hill. That leads me to the other model of doing church, the missional model which has a 'go to them' mentality. In the New Testament life and ministry happens in the context of a living and thriving community. It is community life that attracts rather than a show or a program. Every Christ followers sees themselves as missionaries, sharing the good news with those around them. Where does that leave us? I see a biblical precedent for both so we strive to be an attractional missional community. Some people, particularly those with a christian background will start coming to church when God begins working in their hearts so I encourage you to invite those individuals to church. But there are others who would never consider coming to a church service so we must take the gospel to them by entering into their world and adapting the gospel to them without changing the nature of the gospel. We are the light of the world, we are a city on a hill, we are the light of the world, the salt of the earth, we are the presence of God in this world, and we are a sent people who are called to take the gospel to those who face a Christ-less eternity. So ask God to open doors, look for open doors, and walk through open doors.
Take aways . . .
• Pray for open doors
• Look for open doors
• Are you living for God's Mission?