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Devotionals

How Important is the Soul? (Part 4)

What is the value of a soul? Maybe we need to be more personal … “what is the value of your soul?” When Jesus said He would build His Church, what did He have in mind? When He spoke to Peter, exactly what did He mean?

Mt 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

By “Church” He means “people” … The Greek is Ekklēsia, meaning “a gathering of those summoned”. The ancient Greece idea was an “assembly of citizens in a city-state”. For Church or People we could easily use Kingdom … for God’s people are His Kingdom … wherever they are. As useful and as important as a building is, that is not the Church, the people are!

The Jews wanted freedom and emancipation from the Romans. They wanted economic freedom and stability too. They wanted a kingdom like David reigned over that enjoyed peace, provision and security.

Jesus’ Kingdom is radically different. My good friend Ray Potgieter and I were discussing “Church” on Christmas Day and agreed that God’s Church that He looks after and builds is the “Invisible Church of the Lord Jesus Christ”, constituted of all believers from creation to the end of this creation as we know it.

Now, flowing over from yesterday you can see why the Watchman (pastor, shepherd, elder) must have his focus on the soul not the body; on the eternal not the temporal … on the there and not the here. Yesterday we briefly considered “make” … today we need to consider …

3) Teach … “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Mat 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

For the sake of clarity I am assuming the make was successful through evangelism and that the new disciples have offered themselves for a public profession of faith. Baptism needs to be seen as a public identification with Jesus as Lord. It demonstrates to the transition from the form of paganism or “carnal” Christianity the person was associated with to Jesus Christ as Lord, Savior and King.

I am one who believes in paedobaptism and when a person was not baptized as an infant to believing parents, such would need to go through believer’s baptism. In either case, once the person demonstrates solid conversion, they need to publically declare their faith to both believers and the world to prove they are no longer “lost”.

There are numerous platforms where this may be done. But remember that as with paedobaptism, so with believer’s baptism, baptism does not save.

Being baptized by the Holy Spirit (birthed into God’s family through being born again) is the only hallmark of salvation. This person now needs to be taught … educated … trained in the disciplines of Christianity. They might have been raised in a Christian home and they might have gone to Sunday School, Youth Group and even a Christian School … but they still need to be catechized, irrespective of age, length of time at the Church or secular education.

Our Lord now adds … “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

(1) Note the word “and”. It is not just winning the soul for Jesus and introducing them into the Church as a believer … there is something more … “and”.

(2) The “and” is teaching. The word used in the Greek, correctly translated is “teaching” and means “to impart instruction, instill doctrine into one”. I hate the concept of indoctrination because it implies force without understanding why. I prefer the Greek whereby a person is instructed in the Scriptures.

By the Scriptures I imply the whole of the Bible … for Jesus says … “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Never forget that Jesus is God and The Bible is God’s Word. He would have taught His disciples–and those He chose as apostles in particular–all of the Word of God.

Teaching must include all the Bible. Neither the apostles, disciples or any Christian teachers and preachers since have the right to add to the Bible or remove teaching from the Bible. They are not allowed to manipulate the Scriptures. They cannot twist a text to make it say what they want to convey, nor distort it to make it say what they do not want it to say. Sadly, many do.

We have the Liberal Church, the Charismatic Church, the Roman Church, the Politicized Church, the Socially Active Church and many fringe Churches that fall under the umbrella of Christianity who make the Bible say what they want it to say. This is where careful research into the text of the Old and New Testaments is important when it comes to areas where manipulation is performed. This is where true exegesis is needed to prevent eisegesis. (Exegesis is legitimate interpretation which “reads out of’ the text what the original author or authors meant to convey. Eisegesis, on the other hand, reads into the text what the interpreter wishes to find or thinks he finds there.)

This is the reason the Holy Spirit carefully selected words He (God) wanted, to prevent distortion. Here are two examples …

(a)

1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing.

The sentence is clear, yet note the words “sound instruction”. It means “true and incorrupt doctrine”. God does not provide any leeway for the slightest alteration. Jesus said in Matthew:

Mat 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Why did He say this? Because to move or remove any form of punctuation it will change the meaning!

(b)

2 Ti 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.

The phrase “careful Instruction” means the person teaching needs to be thorough and diligent in preparation to convey the true meaning of the Bible to the one being discipled. We will return to the “teaching theme” tomorrow.

Father, Your Word is Holy because it is Your Word. Give much guidance by Your Spirit to those preparing and teaching the Bible so that accuracy will prevail to prevent spiritual shipwrecks. Amen.

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