Saturday, February 28, 2015

Balanced Church Leadership—the Evangelist and the Pastor

I have spent much time considering the purpose of and reason for the five leaders that are listed in Ephesians 4:11
Eph 4:11, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.
Because I am presently serving as Interim Pastor, and have invited Evangelist Eric Fuller to preach a revival at the church where I am serving, my thoughts have been focusing on the difference between the roles and responsibilities of a pastor and that of an evangelist.
First of all, it is amazing that both are included as leaders in Christ’s church according to Ephesians 4. But equally interesting is how they compliment each other in the work of the local church.
The pastor’s primary call is to pastor or shepherd his flock. His ministry is therefore first to the people and second to the lost. The evangelist’s primary call is to evangelize the lost outside the church. His ministry is therefore first to the lost and second to the people within the church. Implications of the differences are remarkable to consider.
Both come at the Great Commission from two different sides of the equation. The pastor comes at his task looking at the church members first. The evangelist comes at his calling looking at the lost outside the church first. Yet even so, neither is exonerated from exercising aspects of the other’s ministry.
The pastor is called to “Do the work of an evangelist” in 2 Timothy 4:5, even though he may not feel like evangelism is in his gift set. The New Testament is not so direct with the follow-up ministry of the evangelist. There are instances where there is no possible follow-up between the evangelist and the new convert in the New Testament. However, the many churches that were established through the ministry of the Apostle Paul should encourage the evangelist to work with those that are saved as much as possible beyond their conversion to Christ. The fact that Paul returned to those places where the gospel was received in Acts 14 provides the evangelist an example of the priority of follow-up ministry after his work.
Christ in His foreknowledge and divine insight gave two leaders within His local church that look at the Great Commission from two separate angles. Their approach comes with their unique gifting and with different roles within the church.
Both pastors and evangelists are needed for a well-balanced church—Christ knew this! Neither pastor nor evangelist should look down upon the ministry focus of the other. Both are needed for a balanced church.
Already in the New Testament the ministry of the pastor and that of the evangelist led to a schism. Whereas Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered” (1 Cor 3 6), it was not long before there were several subgroups of people in conflict over the priority of their roles:
1 Cor 1:12, “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’
While this schism is inevitable, it is not necessary to encourage it or to nurture it. Each is a valid part of the Great Commission mandate, and each has a place in the leadership gifts of Jesus Christ to His church. Paul showed that both evangelists and pastors work as one, and should be content with their roles according to their own labor:
1 Cor 3:6-8, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

Friday, February 27, 2015

“After Grace Has Been Received Through Baptism”?

These words belong to the second paragraph of the conclusion of what is called “The Second Council of Orange” (3 July 529). The original wording of the conclusion is ascribed to Archbishop Césaire d’Arles. He took the teaching of the 25 preceding Canons and added the chronological sentiment of this clause. It may be helpful to share the entire sentence from which proceeds this phrase:
“According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul”
Eph 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Nor is grace received after hearing the gospel, as is clearly stated in the Bible:
Rom 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Eph 1:13, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
In this last verse, Paul’s use of the word “after” directly contradicts the use of the same preposition as above used by Césaire d’Arles. Persons must first hear so that afterwards they may believe and be sealed by the Spirit of promise.
Thus the need for a hearing of faith is necessary, as affirmed in Galatians:
Gal 3:2, “This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Jesus Himself taught the need for hearing His words followed by belief in the same unto eternal salvation:
John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
In fact, the verses directly teaching the need to hear the gospel prior to faith and receiving grace are many. The plenary teaching of New Testament salvation hinges upon this one concept.
But through one phrase in the 6th Century Second Council of Orange the Western Church system was ushered into a very long era of sacramental salvation. The impact of this one phrase cannot be overestimated.
“After grace has been received through baptism.”
This phrase shaped how salvation was conceived in the state-church after that time. Those who did not hold to this exact view of Baptism as the reception of divine grace were framed as heretical and were anathematized as such.
Centuries of doctrinal education and theological categories were strained through the filter of that phrase. The Evangelical view was framed out of doctrinal consideration. Evangelicals and Evangelicalism were scrubbed from the pages of church histories.
On a practical front, Evangelists and evangelism were pushed outside the periphery of the church and its activities. Evangelical churches and their activities became incognito. It still took another 500 years before the fires of persecution burned at the center of European town squares.
Eventually a theologian was found who fitfully framed Evangelicalism out of the question. Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences became the only standard for Western theological education for over a half a millennium. Not long after him another prominent Doctor of the Church, “that great Angelic Doctor,” applied the work of his predecessor to the cultural conditions of dealing with presumptuous heretics. Western Europe was ushered into a time of extreme spiritual darkness. Great persecution ensued.
“quod post acceptam per baptismum gratiam”
[“After grace has been received through baptism”]

With six Latin words, New Testament evangelism was almost extinguished from Western Christianity. It took the publishing of the Greek New Testament almost a thousand years later to shake Western European Christianity from its darkness and slumber.

400 years after the Protestant Reformation evangelism was birthed within theological education. In 1901 L. R. Scarborough founded and chaired the first seminary department of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. 100 years later evangelism continues on in theological education, both in teaching and practice. My prayer is for a bright future for evangelism in theological education!