Commentary on "Every Member Ministry"
Day 6: Thursday, April 12, 2012 - Reporting to the Church
The way to complete a job is to file a report of the finished work to the boss, and this “final report” is the last phase addressed by this week's lesson. In the church there is mutual encouragement through reporting. Using the examples of disciples reporting to Jesus about their mission and presenting the entire book of Acts as a demonstration of reporting the missionary travels of the apostles, the author highlights the church's interest in missionary activities and its commitment to maintaining focus and progression, reminding the reader that God is at work and that we can praise Him for what He has done.
It may sound strange and counterintuitive, but the strongest point is at the same time the weakest:
"Some people are hesitant to turn in reports because they wonder if it is a form of boasting in human achievement but, by our faithful reporting, God is glorified, and His church is strengthened in faith. The early Christians glorified God when they heard the missionary reports of the apostle Paul."
Without a doubt, reports of missionary activity should be done and can be done in such a way that they glorify God. Any other type of report is not an option. But in the middle of the most innocent report there is a trap. The lesson states,
“Those hearing the reports are blessed as they realize what God is accomplishing through His people.
“Through reporting, the church and those witnessing can again see that they are co-workers with the Lord.”
The Jehovah's Witnesses have marvelous reports about missionary activity; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (colloquially the Mormon Church) has even more wonderful reports. Both the JW church and the LDS church see those reports as concrete proof that they are co-workers with God, that God is accomplishing great things through His people. The JW considers itself the only true church; the LDS sees itself in the same light, and the SDA Church sees itself as the "remnant church", the single church which is not apostate, which is outside Babylon. One of them may be right and the other two wrong, but not even two of them can be right, much less all of them. Obviously the reports delude at least two of them into thinking that God is blessing them abundantly.
The right order of things is to get the gospel right, next spread it, and afterward be encouraged by reports of its being well-received. Using reports of success as proof that the gospel a church preaches is the right gospel, that God is blessing that organization’s mission because it is the true church, is self-delusion. The Adventists should first take a hard look at their gospel, not trusting reports for confirmation of their right standing before God. Otherwise, the church is justifying itself by its collective works in the same way a bona-fide legalist justifies himself by his individual works. Jesus’ words toward the Pharisees of his day fit very well with this attitude:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves (Matthew 23:15).
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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