The Pharisees Overemphasized Making Converts

The Real Pharisees

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15).

One might wonder how it could be possible to overemphasize making converts. After all, one of the principal works that we have been given – both individually and collectively – is to try to turn people to the Lord. The New Testament places a good deal of emphasis on making converts.

  • The apostles’ mission was to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).
  • The church’s work is to be sure “the word of the Lord [is] sounded forth” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
  • Christians are to support preachers (3 John 7-8) and teach others (1 Peter 3:15) as we have the opportunity to do so.

Seeking to convert people to Christ is important. Yet there is an overemphasis on converting others when we are willing to change the message or are unconcerned that the message has already been changed. The Pharisees had changed the law to the point that they were converting people to themselves, which did the converts no good. While their zeal was commendable – traveling “on sea and land to make one proselyte” (Matthew 23:15) – the Pharisees should have made sure they were following the law correctly so they could be converting people to the Lord’s way instead of to their way. Today, if we compromise and change the gospel message, then we will be guilty of doing the same thing.

Paul told the Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Corinthians 1:17). This certainly does not mean that baptism is unnecessary for salvation. The Scriptures plainly teach that it is (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21). Paul’s point was that his responsibility as an apostle and preacher was to preach the truth, not to baptize (make converts). Timothy was to preach the truth without compromise, even if people were uninterested in his message (2 Timothy 4:2-5). Converting someone with a message other than the truth of the gospel means we are not converting them to Christ. If we do not use the pure, unadulterated gospel – “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) – those who are “converted” are still condemned.

We must not compromise or change the message of the gospel in order to make more converts. The churches of men have been doing this for years, but they are not converting anyone to Christ this way. Paul was not sent “to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17). He wrote later in the same letter, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). We simply need to plant and water and allow God to cause the growth so that we are converting people to Christ rather than to ourselves.

So who are the real Pharisees today? They are not the ones who sit back and refuse to try and make converts. Instead, they are those who are zealous about making converts; yet they have changed the message and are not converting people to Christ.

The above post is an excerpt from the book, The Real Pharisees by Andy Sochor. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

Mission Work

To Sum the Whole Thing Up: A Collection of Writings by J. C. Roady

We are often asked if the Church of Christ believes and practices mission work. We wish to make it very plain that we do. We believe that it is a command of God and that it must be obeyed if we are to be the Church that Christ built. But we do want to say that we do not believe in a missionary society. There is not a thing the Lord has commanded to be done that can’t be done through the Church. God does not intend for His work to be done through a human institution. When we do that then that institution takes the glory that belongs to the Church. The Church is the only institution that was bought with the blood of Christ (Eph. 5:25-26-27). The Church is the only institution that has Christ as its head (Col. 1:18). The Church is the only institution through which we are to give glory to God (Eph. 3:21). Mission work is to be done through the Church. Please read this statement from the pen of Apostle Paul in 1 Thess. 1:8: For from you sounded out the word not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. It is the duty of the Church to sound out the word. It is the duty of the Church to see that people have a chance to hear and believe the gospel. We often hear some one say, “That preacher is not doing much mission work.” That belongs to the church and for the preacher to take that upon himself has only helped to encourage the Church in her neglect of duty along that line. I read again in Eph. 3:10: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God. It is the Church’s place to make that known.

But some might ask why be opposed to a missionary society? For more than one reason. In the first place, a missionary society robs the Church of the glory that belongs to it. They stand up and say, “Look at what we have done,” and the result is the Church is kept out of it. Another reason is why is it necessary to keep up the middle-man? The Church of Christ sends money to do mission work, every cent of which goes to the place where the work is to be done. There is no middle-man to be paid. That is not true where the money is placed into a human organization. Everyone knows that the organization has to be taken care of, and knows that it takes money to do that. Therefore, part of the money paid in for mission work stays with the organization to keep it going. The Church sends out the word. The Church does the mission work. The Church gets the glory for it, and every cent that starts out to do missionary work gets there. That is the Lord’s plan, and there is none better. The money is raised for mission work as we raise it for other purposes: give as we have been prospered on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-2-3). If the Lord’s plan fails, then we are not to blame. But we are to blame if we put up a plan of our own and use it and put the Lord’s plan into the background. Mission work is plainly taught in the Bible and we must carry it out as taught.

The above post is an excerpt from the book, To Sum the Whole Thing Up: A Collection of Writings by J. C. Roady. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!

The Local Church Needs to Be Focused on Its Work (Plain Bible Teaching)

Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years

The following is an excerpt from the book, Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years.

The local church needs to be focused on its work. Besides the fact that such “fellowship meals” are unauthorized (as we have already noticed), adding works like this to the church distracts from the God-given work of evangelism, edification, and limited benevolence. When Paul wrote to Timothy about the care for certain widows, he said, “If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed” (1 Timothy 5:16). Caring for all widows was good. However, Paul said that only certain widows were to be cared for on an ongoing basis by the church. If a widow had family, those family members were to care for her. Why? So that the church would “not be burdened,” because this would distract it from its work of caring for “widows indeed.

A similar principle is found in the record of the early days of the church in Jerusalem. When certain widows were being neglected, the apostles called upon the congregation to select certain men to handle this work. Why could the apostles not help these widows themselves? They said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables” (Acts 6:2). The apostles were charged by Christ to preach (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20). While it was important that those in need were cared for, it would hinder the apostles’ work for them to do it. This principle applies to the local church. The works of evangelism (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:8) and edification (Ephesians 4:11-16) are ongoing. Placing additional works upon the church which the Lord never authorized the church to do not only violates the New Testament pattern (2 Timothy 1:13), but it also hinders these other works.

You can read more in Plain Bible Teaching: The First Ten Years. Follow the link to learn more about the book and purchase your copy today!