What would it take for your church to impact its community in the same way the first-century church touched the lives of many of the residents of Jerusalem, Judea, and Galilee?
Discover how your church can become a conduit through which God leads people from spiritual darkness to become followers of Jesus Christ. Follow in the footsteps of the early adherents of Jesus and learn how that like them your church can greatly influence your community through the power and courage given by the Holy Spirit.
Build upon the strong foundation established by Jesus and let Passionately Purposeful become a guidebook to assist in equipping your church to experience success in her assignment in a contemporary context through:
• Boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ;
• Positively influencing those in need of Jesus through a transformed lifestyle;
• Making confident, bold praying a major part of the daily life of your church;
• Building a joyful and genuine sense of expectancy in your church by becoming a partner in evangelistic church planting.
Our Lord revealed His mission to early followers at Caesarea Philippi, and the foundational truths of the early church remain just as relevant today. He foretold that the church built on these same truths would be victorious against the very gates of hell in any generation.
Rediscover how these Passionately Purposeful early Christians were used by the Lord to turn their world upside down for Jesus Christ! He still blesses those who follow the simple basic functions that He supremely favored in that first-century church!
The Primary Message of His Church Jesus begins the dialogue in verse 13 by asking His followers, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The response is a varied list of godly men running from John the Baptist to Jeremiah. The Jewish people were saying that Jesus was a prophet. This was the impression and the talk of the common man on the streets in Judea with respect to Jesus. Perhaps some were reminded of one of the prophets by His frequent quotations and His knowledge of the Old Testament texts. Maybe others found a reminder of a prophet like Elijah in His no-nonsense responses to His antagonists, the Scribes and the Pharisees. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet and likely some of these common men of the time had observed Jesus’ numerous expressions of compassion and His love for the everyday Jew on the streets of Jerusalem and His passion to see the Jewish people draw nearer to the Father. Then Jesus asked the disciples the really important question. He had walked, talked, taught and related to these same men over an extended period of time. Some New Testament scholars have said that Jesus earthly ministry among these men covered a three year period of time. These were Jesus’ closest followers. These were the men Jesus was equipping to lead His church. He knew that soon He would give His life as the sacrificial Lamb of God on the cross, and thereafter return to His heavenly home. Did these men really know Who He was? Were they beginning to grasp the mission of Jesus? The answer to that question was vital to the survival of His church and He knew it. So He asked them, “Who do you say I am?” While Peter didn’t always get things right, this time in baseball terms, Peter hit a grand slam home run! “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This response would become and remain the clarion call of Jesus’ church through the centuries and to this day! This message is what sets the church apart from other groups of people who do good works. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God! This is the indisputable and simple message of the church in any generation. Jesus, the Christ is unmistakably King Jesus! He is the long promised Messiah of Israel, and of the people of God in any era of time. Jesus is the unique and only begotten Son of the living God, Who was and is and forever more will be! In whatever age the church finds herself immersed or whatever difficult time she walks through or whatever challenge she faces or whatever season of blessing she enjoys, this message must always and forever be the primary message of the church. Jesus is the King, the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior and the Lord of the Church! He came to save sinners from the penalty of hell and to save us for living the abundant life in Him. Jesus as Savior and Lord must be the primary message of the church now and forevermore! When a church ceases to preach Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, ascension and His second coming, that church will have become a lifeless organization of men having lost the power and the Spirit of God, which are needed to impact this world for Him. Such a church will assuredly have its lampstand removed from it, just as Jesus warned the church at Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2. If a spiritually dead church continues to exist she will do so only as a social club, functioning more like a country club than a church. Some churches today preach almost anything and everything except the simple, yet powerful gospel of Jesus Christ. Other churches seldom ever mention the sacrificial death of the Savior on the cross for the sin of all of mankind. At times when I attend other churches and listen to the sermons I get the feeling of having read a self help book purchased at the local bookstore. Little wonder that people are leaving the church by the thousands every year. People are sitting in the chairs on the Lord’s Day and coming away literally starved to death, because of irrelevant sermons preached by pastors who are not walking in the Spirit and not feeding themselves from the Word of God. One thing that makes a church A CHURCH is that she preaches with power and conviction the life transforming message of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! She knows for a certainty that if she fails to proclaim the good news about Jesus that the rocks and the trees will cry out this 2000 year old message of salvation. What was Jesus’ response to Peter’s bold proclamation concerning Jesus’ messiahship? Let me paraphrase Jesus’ reaction. He said, “Peter, I know you are a smart man, because all fishermen are smart (especially fly fishermen), but you didn’t figure this out on your own, nor did someone else tell you this fact. Your heavenly Father showed you this truth and caused you to understand its impact on your life.” Scripture states that Jesus’ said to Peter that it was God Who revealed this truth to the big fisherman! That is my testimony, too! I was raised in church. I had heard hundreds of sermons. I owned a Bible or two. I had memorized Scripture from those copies. I had attended Sunday School all of my life. I knew in my mind the facts of His death on the cross for my sins. However, it was the heavenly Father Who through His Spirit touched my heart on a cold January morning in Riverton, Wyoming when I was 16 and convicted me of my sin and transferred that knowledge from my mind to my heart! I repented of my sins and was gloriously born again! The message of this life changing truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God must be revealed by the Holy Spirit for spiritual conversion and life transformation to truly take place!
KENT SHIRLEY, the son of a Southern Baptist pastor, followed in his father’s footsteps to serve the Lord. He has served as a Baptist deacon, pastor, missionary to the Aymara peoples in Bolivia and Peru, and a North American Mission Board missionary in western Colorado. He lives in Grand Junction, Colorado, with his wife of forty-five years.