A Reputation Worth Having (Part 2)
Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.”
Last week I had hoped to add to part of this series but was unable to do so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the life of a pastor takes many twists and turns and last week was one of those weeks. It was also one of those weeks when the preparation for our Sunday Sermon at SGCC seemed to consume most of my time.
This morning we return to our subject of what it means to have a reputation worth having, and this is especially in reference to the reputation of a church. We live in a culture today where being a Biblically minded and faithful church is not easy. Our culture has in large measure turned its back on the moral teachings of the Bible. I recently read an article written by Dr. Albert Mohler about the decline in numbers of the Southern Baptist Convention. In that article he made the statement that “The age of cultural or nominal Christianity is coming to a close.” What he meant by this is that the days when it was socially acceptable and even advantageous to be a member of a church are long gone. He went on to say that many millennials would not be willing to join any organization that does not fully endorse the LBGTQ+ agenda. Biblically faithful and Biblically minded churches do not have a choice in this matter and so the result will be continued declining church involvement and membership. One of the conclusions that Dr. Mohler shared in the article was that evangelism was going to become more personal. The days of great stadium revivals like those that Billy Graham hosted, may be over. Evangelism in this age of social stigma, as it relates to the gospel, is going to be more about sharing our faith and modeling our faith with those around us.
With that in mind we look at part two of A Reputation Worth Having. In my last blog entry, we learned that the church at Rome was known first of all for its genuine faith. The second reason why the reputation for faith that the church at Rome had was wroth having was that it was a contagious faith. It was a faith that was not merely heard of and talked about throughout the known world at that time, but it was also a faith that was observed and communicated to others. Because of this faith, the Roman church grew, and the gospel spread.
Back in verse 17 it says, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” The literal translation of that means, “from the faith of one who has believed in Christ to another who comes to believe as a result of the first Christian’s testimony.” There is little doubt that this is the way the gospel spread in the first few centuries of the church’s history. Some of this no doubt was a result of this strategically placed church in Rome.
What is even more amazing when viewed through our modern eyes is that the church had no modern media at its disposal to “get the message out.” There was no internet, no cell phones, no social media, no television, no bookstores, nothing of that sort at all. The gospel very simply spread from one person to the next. How in the world did they do it without the modern tools of our culture?
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his commentary on Romans wrote, “A revival never needs to be advertised; it always advertises itself…Read the history of the church. When revival breaks out in a little group, it does not matter how small, the news spreads and curiosity is awakened and people come and say, ‘What is this? Can we partake of this? How can we get hold of this? Man does not need to advertise it; it becomes known; it spreads throughout the whole world. It had happened here. This is revival! This is Pentecost! This is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the news had spread like wildfire in that ancient world with its poor means of communication, and its absence and lack of advertising media. Isn’t it time we began to think in New Testament terms?”
If the church today in America would truly begin to think in New Testament terms, then it will be concerned with both the quality of its faith and with the contagious nature of that faith. We should be concerned that people talk about Christians and Christianity as being people that really live what they say they believe in, whether it’s socially acceptable or not. The lost will never come to Christ when they see a church that doesn’t take God’s Word seriously both corporately and personally. People will inquire about Christ when they see that our lives match the Word of God which we claim to believe in.