These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have preached in the Church of Christ since 1968. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men. Bernie Parsons
Gospel Meeting Vs. Revival
Bernie Parsons - 08/20/02
On the one hand, I don't like "splitting hairs" over unimportant issues. On the other, I have discovered through research that most of our traditional doctrines had their roots in some by-gone confrontation. Upon a little reflection, I sometimes reject the "winning" side of an argument. The use of --and the practice of--the term "gospel meeting" is one such instance.
It first caught my attention in the early 1960s, when one over-bearing local preacher made an issue out of it during a sermon. He soundly condemned the concept of--and the phrase--"revival" as being unscriptural, saying that the idea of a "gospel meeting" was what we ought to be advocating. (I suspect his dislike of "revival" was because members of denominations sometimes use that phrase to describe their weeklong meetings.)
He reasoned thusly: a revival signifies that the local church is dead, while a gospel meeting is a series of assemblies in which certain basic subjects are taught. These usually include, and are generally limited to: the so-called "Five Step Plan of Salvation", the necessity for baptism, and why the Church of Christ is the one true church.
My exception to his reasoning is based upon the scripture. First of all, the church often is in bad need of revival. To revive means "to bring to life again", and that is quite scriptural.
1 Corinthians 11:28-30 "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."
Romans 13:11-14 "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof."
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
Ephesians 5:11-17 "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
Revelation 3:1-3 "And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
By the preceding verses, we are made painfully aware that the church is often asleep, or dead, and in need of reawakening, or revival. This is indeed a scriptural concept, contrary to the opinion of some. A series of assemblies directed toward this reawakening, or revival, of the church fits well with what the Bible teaches.
On the other hand, the concept of a gospel meeting is not scriptural, having no foundation at all in the Good Book. The scriptures teach that the assemblies of the church are for the edification (building up, strengthening) of the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:19 "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue."
1 Corinthians 14:23-26 "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."
Notice that in the above passages, there is a qualification: if an unbeliever were to come into the assembly of the body of Christ, he would be convinced by their edification of one another. In other words, the assembly was for the Christians, but unbelievers were not forbidden to attend an assembly.
Ephesians 4:11-16 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets;
and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till
we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a
perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth
be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by
the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But
speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even
Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every
joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
The reason for the teaching is to edify--build up--the body of Christ, His church. So the assembly is intended for the growth and strengthening of the Christians.
Was a "gospel meeting" ever scheduled, promoted, held, or described in the scriptures? No!
On the contrary, rather than holding a special meeting in which potential converts are asked to attend to "hear the gospel", the disciples of Christ are told to take the gospel to the world! The gospel meeting is the opposite of the "Great Commission" given to the apostles.
Mark 16:15-16 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
The gospel will not be preached to every creature, unless it is taken to them wherever they are. Few non-members attend the "gospel meetings". Fifty years ago a series of meetings was considered successful if many were converted to the Lord. Thirty years ago, a single baptism during a weeklong series of meetings was hailed as a success. Now, getting a non-member to even attend one of these meetings is considered a success. Sad how we have lowered the bar on our expectations!
We need to take the gospel to the world, not attempt to lure the world into an assembly meeting (gospel meeting). This, I reason, is one of the primary reasons--among others-- that the churches of Christ are losing members faster than we are replacing them.
The holier-than-thou attitude that I hear from some my brothers and sisters is appalling, and very anti-Christ. You wont catch me in the company of sinners! You wont see me where sinners congregate! I associate only with members of the church!.
Luke 5:30-32 "But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 7:31-48 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of
this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the
marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have
not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I
entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet
with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this
woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou
didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.
Luke 15:1-10 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an
hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the
wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it,
he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his
friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which
was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that
repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
We must take the gospel to the world, as Jesus instructed the apostles and early disciples. If we were to be about our Fathers business, we might see more conversions to the body of Christ.
Luke 10:1-2 "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Acts 8:44 "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Colossians 1:23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Where did the preaching of the gospel take place, to whom was it presented, and on what occasions? It was preached everywhere, to everyone, at any time. It was preached in crowds, and one-on-one; it was preached in public places, and in secret; it was preached in the synagogues, and the temple; it was preached on the mountainside, the seaside, the river bank, and the desert places; it was preached in prison; it was preached before Jewish priests, Jewish kings, Roman governors, and members of the house of the Roman emperor; it was preached to the heathen idol worshippers right in their place of worship; it was even preached in a rolling chariot!
Wherever the unsaved were found, it was preached. There was no call to a special series of gospel meetings! The gospel was taken to the people: whoever, whenever, and wherever they were! We would do well to follow the example the apostles and early disciples, and get the word out to the world!
Luke 10:2 "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.