The Foes of Church Planting

Anyone preparing for the daunting task of planting churches will either wisely heed the advice of others before him, or experience the truth of what I am about to say for themselves. The unfortunate insanity that currently grips modern ideas of church planting has forced me to remind readers of something rather important before I may continue on speaking.  The purpose for church planting is to make disciples.  This is opposed to planting a new church for which believers of other churches may switch membership.  The purpose of church planting is not merely building a building, setting up a few guidelines and moving on.  Church planting is not apart from evangelism as if somehow it is at all satisfactory to merely give someone a synopsis of the Gospel and then leave them to the world to survive on their own.  But if by church planting you mean patiently taking the time to not only evangelize but continue to train disciples, then there will be two great foes you must be prepared for.

2 Corinthians 7:5 

For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.

Paul along with a young man in training, Timothy, tell the Corinthian believers that two basic satanic advances constantly pressed on them, fightings without and fears within.

Fightings without:

The book of Acts is a priceless inspired of God resource that functions as a case study for Gospel workers, and among other things that I will not mention here.  Beginning in chapter four, Peter and John are arrested and later threaten by civil authorities to stop preaching in Jesus name.  What sort of threats can civil authorities make?  My family and and I experience this kind of threat in China where we were arrested for being in association with the Gospel. Basically they can confiscate your wealth, take your freedom, segregate you from love ones, and snuff you life.  As a result, the believers were afraid and shaken. But they prayed, not merely for God to change their circumstances to become more comfortable, but for boldness that they might stand firm against any circumstance.  As a result of their prayer, the house where they residing was shaken by the Holy Spirit.  Why then was there this physical manifestation of God’s presence?  It was as if to say God is shaking them, not the civil authorities.  And as a result they became unshakable, in fact they shook the world.

The mission field will shake you, but in hindsight, it is really God who shakes you.  And after all the shaking, that which is unshakable will remain.  But haven’t I just identified a satanic attack with the work of God?  Yes I have.  Just as Satan thought he achieved something in beguiling Eve, so God predicted the outcome of his schemes would lead to his demise. Just as Satan believed murdering God’s Son would somehow prevent God from fulfilling His promise, so the outcome of the cross delivered God’s rich promises to all who trust in Him.  Nothing has changed when we talk about Satan’s attacks against the spread of the Gospel. God’s superior wisdom is displayed when the enemies attempts to foil God are actually what bring about His will to the benefit of those who love Him.

Fears within:

Just after Peter and John received their threats from the civil authorities, Satan tries another tactic in the next chapter, chapter five.  Ananias and Sapphira conceived a plan to test the Holy Spirit (5:9).  By selling some land and giving the proceeds as a offering, they made it seem as they were giving the whole sum, but secretly keeping back a portion for their own personal use.   If they simply wanted to donate only a portion, this would have not been wrong, but they were attempting to make it seem like they have given it all, just as Barnabas has done.  By doing so they would have gained a reputation in the church, such as those who gave everything, but actually would have not been the truth.  Peter recognizes Satan in all of this (5:3) as an attack on the church from within, an attack of deception aimed at disrupting the unity and potential giving precent to more irreverent attempts to falsely gaining reputation.

In principle, this is an attack from within the spawns from within the community of believers.   Achan’s sin was a sin of deception that brought God’s judgment on the entire community.  Aaron’s sons brought judgment on themselves in a similar fashion, potentially contaminating the entire workings of the priesthood.  Judas was used by Satan to disrupt the inner workings of the Lord’s apostles, now Ananias.  The attacks from within are repeated all throughout the New Testament and both Paul and Peter warns that such attempts will always be present in the church.   But through Satan’s attempts to foil and disrupt, the foundation was laid for a very precious cornerstone of faith, the authority of God’s word.  Both Paul and Peter exhort those who will face such issues to consistently search out the scriptures in order to guard themselves and safeguard others against internal attacks.  The result?  A man “prefect” throughly furnished unto all good works (see 2 Tim. 3:16).

Fightings without and fears within both will assault the missionary.  But the Word of God is unequally matched in power is able to equipped any fallible church planter to be able to stand against Satan and his dominion.

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