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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Marketing The Church

John MacArthur

From the writings of John MacArthur:

“The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God; the decisive factor in salvation . . . The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church. (MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 85)

Are You A Dull Hearer?

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:11-14 ESV)

In Hebrews 5:11 we find this warning from the author: “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.” We see here that the teacher is limited because those who are addressed are spiritually immature and would fail to grasp the knowledge he had to share. Perhaps the people addressed here are like the seed in Matthew 13 that is sown in shallow ground. It sprouts quickly, but there are no roots. They claim to know Christ but choose to ignore His teachings. Are you a shallow Christian who has become “dull of hearing” when the Word of God is spoken? Perhaps you are only a “cultural Christian”, which means “no Christian at all”. Clearly, the implication here is that spiritual growth continues beyond salvation. It is expected.

The men and women of Hebrews 5 are like many people who attend our churches today. They have listened to the message of Christ long enough to be able to teach it; or, at least, to be able to explain the Gospel to those they come in contact with. However, they are “dull of hearing” and continue to need “milk,” and not “solid food.” They need someone to teach them, all over again, the “basic principles of the oracles of God.”

Verse 13 goes on to say; “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.” Those who are mature are those who have believed in Christ as Savior and Lord. The mature consistently seek to grow in the knowledge and fellowship of Jesus Christ. They hunger to live their lives by His example. Yet, it is all too common that many who worship with us on Sunday morning forget what they have been taught as soon as they exit the sanctuary. They fear to go too far in their relationship with Christ due to the opinions of others who might label them as fanatical.

Verse 14 provides us with a contrast to those who still need milk: ” But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Mature believers are able to discern the truth of the Word of God from false teachings. The spiritually immature are unable to discern or test spiritual things. On the other hand, the mature believer has gained wisdom and understanding because of the work of the Holy Spirit within him. He is not “like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 ESV) The true Christian is a student of the Word of God.

The Holy Spirit warns us to; “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV) This warning applies to us today. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we are saved just because we have perfect attendance at church. We must thoroughly look at ourselves to see if we are “dull of hearing” or dull of reading the Word of God. Are we truly mature enough in faith to distinguish good from evil? Let us continually pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give [us] the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of [our] hearts enlightened, that [we] may know what is the hope to which he has called [us]. . . .” (Ephesians 1:17-19 ESV)

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