Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who is in church? the unbelievers and inquirers

Last time we saw that in the church gathered together we have saints and pastor-teachers. Who else can we also expect to be there from what the bible tells us?

There's an interesting word found in 1 Cor 14:23-24 the "idiwtnrs", literally 'the ungifted', and my question here exegetically is whether in the context of gifts as the chapter speaks of, it's speaking of someone without charismata, "gifts", however one gift all Christians have is salvation, the grace gift. In that case these are truly unbelievers. Of course Leon Morris in his Commentary on 1 Corinthians published by IVP argues the case better than I. See commentary on 1 Cor and chapter 14:16, 23-24. He points out that in verse 23 the idiwtns is distinguished from "the whole church" so that the person mentioned cannot be a Christian. It seems best then as Paul distinguishes him from the unbeliever to see him as an enquirer.

So in the context of 1 Cor 14 in the church gathering you have Paul saying that both unbelievers and enquirers can be present.

What does that mean for us who gather together in church? We need to be mindful that some among us are unsaved, or enquirers. Does that mean we should turn our teaching from the pulpit into an evangelistic message? If so how often do you do that since presumably the unbeliever and enquirer can be there every time? No. The call is for pastor-teachers to equip the church, to expound the whole Word of God. The saints are to be equipped for evangelism. They can and should be able to evangelise with the gospel message of salvation both the unbeliever and enquirer.

Does that then exclude any call to unbelievers to repent and turn to the Lord Jesus in the pulpit sermon? No. for many texts open themselves up to this as one of the applications. It may not and probably should not be the main application, unless it it so in the text, yet it is often accompanying the thrust of the text. For example, if it calls upon the believer to rejoice and obey some specific command, then it means that "if you are an unbeliever among us tonight then 'you cannot do this' or 'this promise is not for you unless you repent of your sin and turn to the Lord Jesus as Lord'." etc.

Who is with us in church? Saints, pastor teachers, unbelievers and enquirers.

For us saints, let's do the work of ministry!

God Bless,

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