The job of a pastor is to get people who think they are saved to actually be saved.
I’m not entirely positive about this, but when Paul tells Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist,” I wonder if he’s talking about in the church.
Usually doing the “work of an evangelist” is interpreted as doing door to door, tract handing out evangelism.
It could very well be talking about evangelizing on the street, or outside the context of the church. But I wonder, I just wonder, if he’s not telling Timothy to remember to evangelize in the church. The context shows that he’s talking about preaching the word, and how increasingly people will not pay attention to sound doctrine. Sure sounds like he’s talking about a church context, not just outside it.
After serving for years in one church, I know people pretty well. I have a pretty good sense as to who is taking their faith seriously and who is not. I’ve seen many people leave the church over the years, and some of them even left the faith. I have a pretty good sense what true Christian faith looks like and what a saved person is up to. Yes, the “heart is the key issue” and “God is the judge.” I’m fully aware of this. I also have a brain that pays attention in my relationships to people. I’m not the Final Judge, but I am to minister to people, which requires making assumptions about what they need.
It is my contention that churches are made up mostly of unbelievers. Like maybe even 75%.
Maybe 75% is higher than you would go, I don’t know, but I fear for the souls that attend church, and not just my church, all churches. Just look on the Facebook pages of your church members and I think your percentage is going to be high.
I regularly do sermons on the Gospel: what it is, how it works, what it does to a person when they believe it, how to know if you are saved or not, etc. Without fail, these will be the sermons people will get mad about and leave the church over.
Without fail preaching on the Gospel as the Bible presents it will cause people to have a problem with you. It’s the offense of the Gospel Paul talked about.
The Gospel declares us sinners who need to die and be raised up to new life. Without that new life and the evidence for it, a person should have no expectation they are saved. I know, you got wet in a church once or you said the prayer, but salvation is not proved by one-time events and actions. The just shall live by faith.
OK? Got it? Go with that paragraph right there, preach some sermons on that and watch the people get upset and leave your church.
Then tell me the majority of people in your church are saved.
After doing this for so many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that the church is one of the largest unreached people groups in the world.
The church needs the Gospel. Not the actual Body of Christ, Church, all members in one body, but I’m talking about the visible, external, institutional church.
Church people are much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They all think they are saved. They are comfortable and happy consoling themselves on their spiritual attainments, looking down on those who slightly disagree with them. While living high above others, they never actually do anything God says. When this is pointed out, when the light of the Gospel shines in, they freak out.
Pastors, do the work of an evangelist. Get the people in your church saved. Tell them the Gospel over and over.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
–2 Timothy 4:2-5