Commentary on "Every Member Ministry"
Day 4: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 - Individuals but Together
Today’s lesson discusses church membership as participation Christ’s body, also acknowledges the reality of being a member even if not united with the body. A church grows when every member does his share, but when leaders do not properly value the principle “every member a minister”, those leaders are responsible for growth stagnation because they do not make enough effort to involve the members at their maximum potential. The Thessalonian church received the gospel and passed it on to others, and like them, it’s important to work with common strategies among members in order to benefit from the encouragement of others and also to be accountable to others so one’s work should can be reviewed and evaluated.
On the positive side, passing the gospel received to others is indeed the way God works to spread His word. The gospel is first of all good news; it’s an announcement, the proclamation of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that defeated sin, Satan, and death by canceling the record of debt forever, liberating the captives and transferring them from the domain of darkness into the domain of light, disarming rulers and authorities (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Colossians 1:13,14; 2:13-15). Notice that sharing the gospel is not a new program, a new set of spiritual rules or spiritual exercises. It's not about a new kind of radical discipleship. It is not a new "to do" list, but an announcement about something that was "done".
To make short an otherwise long story, the Adventist message lacks this definitive, accomplished element: the Adventist atonement is not finished; it is not completed. What happened at the cross constitutes only the “sacrificial aspect of atonement", a "full and complete sacrifice". This means that the sacrifice doesn't definitively cancel sin, the record of debt, and doesn't once and for all transfer the believer from the domain of darkness into the domain of light. It doesn't silence the accuser and disarm him completely; the cross has to wait until the last judgment is over, and then the accuser is defeated. In this situation, the Adventist message can't be passed to others like good news, like an announcement that is to be embraced and enjoyed. The way of passing Adventism to others is through the means of enrollment: bringing people into a spiritual course that will prepare them for Jesus Christ's second coming. This is not good news. It’s more like good advice, but it’s not even good advice, because the program doesn't deliver the promised goods.
Instead of blaming the pastors for not believing in the "every member a minister" concept and motivating the members to pass what they received to others, the Adventist author should ask himself if he truly has received the gospel and if he truly has something of substantial value to offer others—or if what he promotes is a "form of godliness" which lacks the power of the gospel (2 Timothy 3:5, Romans 1:16). Any moral program that isn't motivated by the liberating power of the gospel is simply another version of moralism, the natural (and pagan) religion of the fallen heart. When the gospel is received, it motivates the recipients to pass it to others. It doesn't have to wait for pastors to involve them in church-made programs. In a true Christian church, the pastors serve the members with spiritual food every week, preach the gospel faithfully every week, and the members, refreshed and liberated by hearing again the wonderful message of the gospel, become motivated to spread the gospel at their workplaces and in their neighborhoods.
The author confuses the numerical growth of the church with the growth of Jesus Christ's body/church found in Ephesians 4;16. Here apostle Paul speaks about growth into Christ (Ephesians 4;15), about the goal of becoming mature, reaching the fullness of Christ (verses 13,14). The growth is a spiritual growth; it is spiritual maturity when those who previously were children carried by every wind of doctrine become mature and stable and more solidly rooted in Christ, in the gospel—when they trust more and more in Christ, falling more and more in love with the gospel. It is not maturity to steer away from the gospel toward local church programs.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised April 9, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Casa Grande, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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