In the past, UCG had a controversy with a couple of its ministers because they strayed from the official line on evangelism. Many COG organizations teach that the Gospel is to be spread by the ministry and not by its lay people. Some have even publicly stated that they do not preach to the world. After all, goes the reasoning, no one can come to God unless He calls them (Jn 6:44).
And, that is very true. God does the calling. However, does that relieve us of all individual responsibility? I would argue that the majority of COGs are wrong on this matter.
I was reading Blogging Theologically, and there is an article there about “Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words”. The author makes a pretty good point that this saying can be used as an excuse to not share the Gospel with others. After all, if we never reveal the source of any perceived “goodness”, then we are not being a witness to others. They will just think we are a good person! They will never connect the dots if they cannot even see the dots.
However, just to be clear: There is a difference between being a witness and trying to cram your religion down someone’s throat. “He who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Certainly, Mr Armstrong learned this early on. However, have we gone too far into the other ditch?
We are told to be a light. The constant refrain of some seems to be that a light doesn’t make noise unless it is defective. Cute saying, but does it reflect what the Bible says?
I submit to you that Steven was stoned because he was preaching. He was a deacon, not a “minister”. I doubt that he was stoned because he was stepping outside of his role. After all, God gave him a rather beautiful vision just prior to dying.
You will also notice that when Priscilla and Aquila heard Apollos, who only knew the teachings of John, they did not tell him, “Now stop preaching! You aren’t ordained, so you can’t do that!” No, rather, they “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly” (Ac 18:26). They even wrote to the brethren at Achaia to receive him because “he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (vv 27-28)!
Why else should we be “ready always to give an answer … reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pe 3:15) unless we are to expect to be called upon to speak at some point? How will anyone even know to ask about our hope if we never even speak about it?
God always leaves a witness. A witness testifies … with his or her mouth.
However, there is one more thing to ask of those who are still not convinced: What will you be doing in the World Tomorrow?
We just ended the Feast of Tabernacles. What did you learn about there?
20And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers:
21And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:20-21, King James Version)
Do teachers just jump up and appear out of nowhere? No! They go to school. They learn how to teach. They learn how to conduct a class, create lesson plans, etc. They then become student teachers to practice their art.
We are in school now. Are we learning or just idly trying to get a passing grade?
Yet I can't tell you the last time I heard a COG preacher talk about having a testimony — or exactly what "being my witnesses" means. It's like we have to wait for a grand jury subpoena.
My Bible study today went through the word "ministry." COG's tend to scoff at the "every member a minister" concept. Yet I found some interesting statements by Paul.
Romans 12:6-7 (KJV) says ministry is a spiritual gift. But the indication is that not everyone has it.
Yet Ephesians 4:11-12 says the ordained ministers (you know, the ones with titles) are supposed to prepare God's people for works of service (NIV) — or "ministry." (KJV)
Oh, and by the way: Romans 13:1-6 says rulers are God's ministers. If President Obama can be one, why can't I? 🙂
Richard wrote: "Romans 13:1-6 says rulers are God's ministers. If President Obama can be one, why can't I?"
LOL! Richard, I appreciate your sense of humor!