For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Hear, Do and Teach
In these three words one finds the order in which the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ must be lived.
Hearing is of vital importance in the spiritual order, since "faith comes from hearing" (Rom. 10:17); "I tell you the truth: Whoever hears my word and believes..." (John. 5:24c. Faith originates from hearing the word of God. For that reason the ministry of the word is the biggest of all offices, "God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor. 1:21)."... faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17).
'Word' here is not 'logos,' but 'rhema.' That implies that the word that leaves the mouth of a messenger is a living word, which is Christ. So serious is this, that if there is no-one who preaches, there won't be anyone who can hear or believe, and, therefore, nobody could be saved (in accordance with Romans 10).
If salvation could be achieved by simply reading the Bible (although some have been saved like that), then it would be enough to put a Bible in the hand of every person and therefore make them responsible for their own salvation. The salvation of God is Christ for all that believe. The message that must be heard is: Christ. Hearing a cristology is not the same as hearing Christ preached or hearing from Christ. Hearing something roughly regarding Christ isn't the same as hearing Christ Himself.
When preaching of Christ what aspects of Christ do we need to hear? At least three: His work, His person and His teachings. These three aspects are decisive with regard to what "we are" and what "we have" in Christ.
The Work: Jesus as the Christ
Knowledge of Jesus as the Christ, in relation to what we are and we have, is of fundamental importance. As John, in his first epistle, tells us: "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God."
All who have faith that Jesus is the Christ, are born again when they hear with faith this proclamation. Every preacher must present this truth if he wants to be successful in saving and edifying the people. What is it that these people hear, that by the single act of hearing with faith, they experience a new birth from God? They hear that Jesus is the Christ, from a preacher's lips and are renewed.
The Father sent Christ to this world to reveal the mission that He came to complete. The extent of His work has to do with His death and resurrection, there by man's redemption, the judgment of Satan, the destruction of death, the restoration of all things, the vindication of God's authority by obedience to the law, Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the One Sent! Today, it is easy for us to believe this; but for the Jews and the Greek-Latin world of those days, it was not at all easy. To accept that Jesus was the Messiah implied the crumbling of all their social structure and religion. It moved the foundations of their traditions, it removed them from their doctrinal system and their political structures. It changed their vision of the cosmos; in short, Christ's faith broke their wineskins. It was precisely for these reasons, and more still, that they killed Him. Because they came to believe that such a man didn't deserve to live. In order to proclaim this truth, thousands of preachers have had to die. Is this stubbornness? No! It is because Jesus truly is the Christ!
The fact that Jesus is the Christ solves humanity's radical problem of sin. Jesus, as the Christ, obtained redemption for all those who come to believe in Him. This was His work.
The Person: Jesus as the Son of God
As the Son of God, Jesus reveals to us His nature, His origin, He comes from above, from God! His person is the visible image of God; it is His incarnate image, and in this form He comes to reveal God to us. Jesus is the revelation of God's own self, and at the same time He is the gift of God to us. Jesus incorporates and embodies Deity in all its fullness. Not that He is at the same time all three Persons, but rather that He acts as a representation of the whole Deity, because He has substance. Jesus is a single person with two inseparable natures. The human one and the divine one: He is completely and perfectly human and at the same time is completely and perfectly Divine.
He accepted the humanity of mankind in His vicarious position before God. He is the perfect man that God always wanted to have ("... Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God", Acts 2:22), and He wants the rest of mankind to conform to the image of his Son. It is for this reason those that have the Son of God are as He is. In this case, what I have determines who I am.
On one hand, Jesus is the revelation of God and, on the other, He is the revelation of man. He is the only perfect man that has stepped on this earth. Nobody had ever seen God, but "... the One and Only who is at the Father's side, has made Him known" (John. 1:18).
Who God is and who man is was not really known before Christ came. Although the Jews had been given knowledge of various aspects of God in a progressive form, when the Son of God came they didn't recognize Him. This proves how limited the knowledge of God was that they had amongst them. What can we say of those that had other gods!
When Jesus was revealed to his disciples, He ask them, "Who do people say the Son of Man is? ..." (Mat. 16:13 and following). The men had many confused opinions regarding who the Son of God was; but Peter's confession was the correct one: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Peter didn't know this from dissuasion nor from persuasion; he knew it because the father of our Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to him. It is the same today, for all those that want to know Him.
If the Father doesn't reveal Him, nobody can know Him. Men will be able to have a diversity of opinions in this respect. For those who know the truth, it will only be by a revelation from the Father and not by a reflection of the mind. The confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, constitutes the overwhelming reality of the work and person of Jesus. Also this same confession, is the most powerful testimony of Jesus Christ as the foundation of the Church. The church rests in this revelation and confession. When the church confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Hell retreats. Satan and the demons know what this declaration means. All the higher authorities know it, because through the church they are notified and there is nothing that irritates the dark powers more than to hear of the church's firm foundation of the faith. Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God!
The testimony of Jesus as the Son of God is of great importance for believers, because by this revelation we experience the victory over the world. "Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:5).
The "doing" has to do with putting faith in practice, and consists of the assimilation of a person through Jesus' work in the believer. Having this firm foundation, the disciple is in the condition of practicing Jesus' teachings, that is, to live doing the will of God, and pleasing Him in everything. Doing this, in conformity with what we are and what we have in Christ, will enable us to later teach others.
The believer's deeds or works come from the source from which he feeds; that is, from Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God. God will take His time to form His Son's image within us. A believer can begin to give fruits as soon as he knows Jesus (such is the case of the Samaritan woman), but the most yearned for and grater is the fruit of our life in Christ. We embody His character so that our deeds are not done in the flesh but in the power of a new life.
Deeds have been the flag of some sectors of Christianity, taking believers into a feeble activism of works, efforts, sacrifices, obedience to regulations, in short, legalism, not dependent on the life of Christ in them. This rather emphasizes efforts that should make the believer similar to Christ by external works, as a member of an excellent family, or being a good husband, or a good father. etc. etc.
All this can be very good, but the issue is not how good one can be, but how much life there is within them. Because if what we do for God or for our neighbor comes from the flesh or the human nature, we won't have the approval of God. At this point it is necessary to keep in mind that it is life that produces deeds and not deeds that produce life.
The opposite of "doing," is passivity. Some have seen this passivity in Madame Guyon's works. The doctors of the Official Christianism branded her writings as 'quietism'. Perhaps they thought that the passivity of this sister spoke of was a refusal to do absolutely anything. Mature Christians know that such stages in the believer's life are necessary, because those who have been still in the presence of God can then go on to do great things for God.
A Christian's deeds are not about giving of himself, but rather distributing the provision that we have in God; before all the demands required are to be met, we are first provided for in Christ. "May the God of peace... equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ" (Heb. 13:20-21). It is therefore to be understood that the deeds that one expects will be a work in Christ, on top of the foundation of what one is and of what one has in Him.
We cannot avoid the demands of the gospel of the Kingdom, where obedience to the word and the commandments of the Lord are expected from us, which are more rigorous than the commandments of Moses. The righteousness that is expected from the citizens of the Kingdom is greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees; otherwise we won't enter in the Kingdom of God.
The demands in the Sermon of the Mount are of the highest degree in relation to the norms and conduct of the children of the Kingdom. So then, we have an advantage with regard to the scribes and Pharisees because we are and already have what they were not nor ever had. We are born of God and we have His life. Not that this is for the sinful nature to boast in, but rather for the certainty and joy of the faith, keeping in mind that to the one to whom more is given, more is requested. For that reason, our righteousness should be greater.
Let us observe how Jesus describes us: "You are the light of the world... you are the salt of the earth". So, first we seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all the things that we need will be given to us as well. It is as if He told us: "Calm down, you have me. In me... you have everything!"
"... Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 5:19)."Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice..." (Mat. 7:24). In these words we find the sequence by which a believer passes from the beginning to the end. By hearing, one arrives at being and having; and afterwards, in a condition of doing and teaching.
The assimilation of Christ, through faith that comes to us by Christ's word given by a minister that speaks of the rhema to us, incorporates or increases the grace within us that enables us to act according to the will of God. This way, the edifying of believers does not rest on the demands that the hearers must respond by themselves, but by the grace that is imparted by their ministers through Christ's word.
The problem is not in the brothers, but in the pulpits. The ministry of the word should be in line and well linked....., forming teams of ministers of the word that participate in the life of the body in a local church. This is the weakest point in today's Christianity and it should be the main concern of the restoration of the church. The church is failing in deeds, because its ministers have not learned how to work in a corporate form.
The teachers of the word should be well-known men in the context of a local church; they should give proof of corporate lives. How much it costs the human nature to yield, before the life of the church! There they learn the greatest and deepest lessons in their spiritual life.
Doctrine vs. Conduct
As we have said, the topic of our teaching is Christ which consists of presenting His works and His person, constitutes the foundation where the church is built. We also need to add, to the work and Jesus' person, his own teachings. In order to be able to live these teachings we will also need to take hold of the foundation and the whole provision that God has given us in Christ.
There are many parables, similes, allegories, metaphors and direct words that form Jesus' teachings. For the believers it is relatively easy to guard the doctrinal teachings that Jesus imparted regarding salvation, baptism, communion, His second coming, resurrection of the dead, trials, the Kingdom that must come, etc., etc., and all are very important and very pleasing to keep hold of. But many of His teachings have to do with moral aspects where a mode of conduct is expected of our own freewill. This is more difficult to adhere to; it is the part in which we fail the most. We sometimes have brothers with a lot of zeal in keeping the doctrinal truths but with very little zeal in keeping the truths that affect morals.
The most important truth of this entire emphasis is the gospel of the Kingdom of God, here and now. We will reign with Him there, if He reigns in us here. In fact, the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom contains all the truths concerning demands in relation to norms and conduct for the citizens of the Kingdom. This is the emphasis that we have put: firstly the foundations and then secondly the demands. Because if the order is inverted, placing demands before foundations for the disciples, we will fail in the intent of edifying the saints. It is possible that we will end up being more legalistic than the Pharisees. Liberate us Lord!
Gospel of Grace vs. Gospel of The Kingdom
The gospel of grace consists of seeing Christ as the Lamb of God coming to be given for us. The gospel of the Kingdom consists of seeing Christ enthroned in heaven as the Lord. It is not that two gospels exist, because Jesus is one person but we see it in different aspects. The disciple must experience both aspects. In the first one, he will receive the gift that God of Himself in the person of His Son. In the second, he receives Christ's Lordship over his life, understanding that all that the Lord expects his: obedience, loyalty, service, consecration and his all (everything). All this the believer already has and he can do because God has provided it to him in Christ.
Which of the two aspects of our Lord Jesus Christ's gospel should be our emphasis in teaching others? In reality, when a believer receives Christ, he receives a single person. The problem is that teachers, when highlighting an aspect of Christ in his teaching, will overshadow one aspect with another. Both are important; but the first one is fundamental in order to experience the second. In the first aspect we enable, with the other one we demand; but if we demand without enabling we won't have results. Let us not forget that our Lord in heaven is not only the Lord, but rather He is our supreme priest that lives to intercede for us. As Lord He is entitled to demand of us; as a high priest He helps us to be able to obey.
The Holy Spirit helps us and directs us in the correct order of Jesus Christ's revelation, so that the service of Christ's word is more effective and more profitable for the faith, so that we hear the word of truth, that we be and have what God has given us in Christ, and then teach by the example of our lives, backing up all of the above.