Acts 1:8 “The Missionary Role of the Church To the State”

Posted on November 11, 2008. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism |

Introduction: In our studies on Sun. nights we are examining the relationships between the Christian and the State and the Church and the State. The State has some obligations toward its citizens and there are some things that the state cannot, or should not, do. The Christian citizen is obligated to obey the state and to be an exemplary citizen, but cannot obey the state if ordered to do that which God forbids, or ordered to not do that which God commands. We have seen the church and state should be separate and that the state should grant religious liberty. But now in the next few sermons we will see what role the church has in the state, how should the church act towards the state. Tonight we will see that the first and primary role of the church to the state is to act as a missionary to the state. The main idea is that the best way for the church to influence the state is to spread the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.

I. The Impact of the Christian Witness of the Individual Christian

When Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matt.28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 he is speaking to the church, yes, but also to the individuals in the church. The Great Commission is not just a group calling, it is the calling of every individual Christian. The church is a body, an organism, a family, a group, but it is composed of individuals who are called of God.

1. The individual Christian is called to be a witness. Acts 1:8. What is a witness? One who testifies of what he has seen, heard, experienced, and been taught. We each have a testimony of the Lord’s grace to us. It doesn’t have to be a dynamic, dramatic testimony of being saved from drugs and prison, etc. If you have been raised a Christian and never greatly strayed from the truth, do not envy those who lived a wild and wooly life and got saved in the rescue mission. I praise God that I missed out on a lot of sin and grief. I thank God that I was raised by Christian parents, in the church.

Here is a brief outline of how you can share the gospel with someone:

Life before I was saved…

How I got saved…

The gospel….

My life after salvation…

My hope for this life and heaven…

2. Everyone can share with someone- Not all of us are called to be street witnesses, knock on doors cold turkey. This old fashioned form of witness training which I participated in a lot growing up has hurt the church, in my estimation. Very few people have the personality type to do that, few people are called of God to do that. Consequently, because that was the prototype of witness training, not many people signed up for that, most who tried it failed, the number of witnesses declined, the professionalization of witnessing, it became the minister’s job.

Look at John 1:43-49. Did Philip run to a total stranger and share the gospel? No, he went to his friend Nathaniel. The place to start witnessing is with people you have a good relationship with. The home, good friends, neighbors, co-workers, people who trust you and whom you trust, is the best place to begin witnessing.

Parents should pass their faith on to their kids and grandkids.

3. Everyone should be trained to be a witness- too often we are mere participators instead of learners (the word disciple means learner/follower/student). When we come to SS and Church we ought to come ready to learn and think and put into practice and relay the information to others. We learn so as to witness.

Too often we think that if our kids go to SS and church that that is enough to counter the effects of the secular school, TV, culture, etc. It takes a lot of work and study to be prepared to witness and too many believers just don’t want to invest the effort. To be trained as a witness means knowing the Bible content and what it means- doctrine. To be trained in how to answer the questions of the lost and to counter bad doctrine and heresy and false religions. Some basic communications skills are needed and some basic degree of courtesy and tact and manners.

4. When you share the gospel and someone gets saved, and it is frequently a group project by the way, how does that impact the state? Every person who gets saved is one less drunk driver, drug addict, cheater, etc. The bottom line is that the more people who think and act biblically, who are living for Jesus, the better off that society becomes. In Matt. 5.13-16 Jesus says that we are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The more salt and light that spreads in the world, one life at a time, the purer our culture will be.

The #1 reason our American culture is so messed up now is that the general population has grown faster than the Christian population. The Christian population is smaller than the church membership rolls, because so many Christians today live ungodly unbiblical lifestyles. Cheap grace heresy has greatly hurt the churches witness. The church itself is a huge mission field.

Paul witnessed to a jailer in Philippi and changed that mans life. Paul witnessed to the philosophers at Mars Hill in Athens, the place where Socrates taught and was condemned. Paul witnessed to Festus, the governor from Rome and King Agrippa, he went on to witness before Emperor Nero once or twice. Paul witnessed to Roman centurions and soldiers…just think of all the individuals who got saved as a result of Paul’s sharing the gospel. At every level of society, from slaves to Kings. Some were saved and made an impact in their world.

II. The Church’s Mission- Make Disciples,

1. Make disciples, not just converts. This is a team concept. We are not just individual witnesses going out on our own. Paul and Barnabas and Paul and Silas went out with the blessing of the church. The goal is to win souls to Christ, disciple them and bring them into the church. Each church ought to have its own territory and mission. Our church’s mission zone is the families of church members, the neighborhood-youth and kids, the work place (me).

2. Principle of multiplication

1st yr- 1 convert

2d yr- you make 1 convert and last years convert makes 1 for 2 (tot.3)

3rd yr- 3 converts for total of (6)

4th yr- 6 converts for a total of (12)

5th yr- 24 converts

6th yr- 48 coverts

7th yr- 96

8th yr- 192

9th- 384

10th- 768 etc.

3. What kind of an impact upon society would that make to have that many converts/disciples being multiplied every yr.

III. The Church’s Strategy

In Acts 1.8 there is a strategy from here, near, far

Paul went to key cities along key roads, population centers, seats of government, trade centers, cultural centers. The church ministered to the poor, the middle class, the upper class. The importance of Campus ministries and Christian colleges.

Key nation strategy. ?

IV. Social Action not Social Gospel

At the turn of the 19th cent into the 20th cent liberalism had become established in a lot of denominations, including the American Baptists. So much concern was given for social action that the idea of helping people in the here and now took over the theology of the churches. Combined with Darwinism and Postmillennialism the idea was that we could make heaven on earth through social action of the church combined with government liberalism and the social welfare state. Sound doctrine was discarded for pragmatism and liberalism. The mainline churches focused on helping the poor and gradually pulled back from the mission field and gave up on evangelism and discipleship,

The conservatives in each denomination began to fight back and the modernism debates of the 19 teens and 1920’s began. This was a very bitter fight that permanently scarred many denominations as splits formed and splinter groups started new denominations. With the advent of radio and movie theaters and the urbanization of society, the churches lost influence. Conservatives retreated from the culture and formed Bible conferences, retreats, camps, Christian schools, etc. Revivalism was still popular until the 1980s.

We lost our culture between 1900 and 1963. We have been in retreat ever since.

The church needs to refocus on sound doctrine and making disciples, without retreating anymore from the culture. In fact we need to fight harder to regain lost ground in our culture. The pure gospel plus social action is our calling. But we must win souls first and foremost because you can pass all the laws you want but if people are not Christian they will flaunt the law.


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