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RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 05:15 PM
..do we believe that?

I'd like to test the waters, so to speak. A comment was made recently to the effect that it is better for a Christian forum to have more posts regarding what is good about the church, than to have more posts that are attacking some aspects of the church.

I suspect that the reason the balance goes in the other direction is because there is more "fun" in fighting than there is in praising. But I could be wrong.

I've started this post in World Religions because I'd like to be able to hear both sides. Let's talk about why we love the Church, the Body of Christ. But also, lets consider those subjects that are often in "attack threads" that might be bringing harm and danger into our Body.

If we truly love the Church, then we are instructed to contend earnestly for the faith.

Jude 3-4
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
NKJV


If Christianity is indeed a World Religion, what does that mean to us?

Thanks for being thoughtful as you post.

9Marksfan
Jan 8th 2008, 05:41 PM
..do we believe that?

I'd like to test the waters, so to speak. A comment was made recently to the effect that it is better for a Christian forum to have more posts regarding what is good about the church, than to have more posts that are attacking some aspects of the church.

I suspect that the reason the balance goes in the other direction is because there is more "fun" in fighting than there is in praising. But I could be wrong.

I've started this post in World Religions because I'd like to be able to hear both sides. Let's talk about why we love the Church, the Body of Christ. But also, lets consider those subjects that are often in "attack threads" that might be bringing harm and danger into our Body.

If we truly love the Church, then we are instructed to contend earnestly for the faith.

Jude 3-4
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
NKJV


If Christianity is indeed a World Religion, what does that mean to us?

Thanks for being thoughtful as you post.

Great idea, Road Warrior!

We should love the church as much as Christ did - and he gave Himself for her! Also it is described as the "pillar and ground of truth", so we need to guard that truth jealously, as the verses in Jude make plain.

I think the problem is that the church in the West is in desperate need of revival and reformation and for too long has put up with false teaching of all sorts and loose living. Conversely, elsewhere in the world, the church is growing at an exponential rate - and yet there is such a lack of gifted leadership or proper church "structures" (I'm meaning biblical structures, not denominations) and pastoral oversight in these countries.

We need to get our own house in order - and then maybe God will call many from the west to help those elsewhere in the world to become fully grounded in the faith. "To whom much is given, of them much will be required."

RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 07:37 PM
Great idea, Road Warrior!

We should love the church as much as Christ did - and he gave Himself for her! Also it is described as the "pillar and ground of truth", so we need to guard that truth jealously, as the verses in Jude make plain.

I think the problem is that the church in the West is in desperate need of revival and reformation and for too long has put up with false teaching of all sorts and loose living. Conversely, elsewhere in the world, the church is growing at an exponential rate - and yet there is such a lack of gifted leadership or proper church "structures" (I'm meaning biblical structures, not denominations) and pastoral oversight in these countries.

We need to get our own house in order - and then maybe God will call many from the west to help those elsewhere in the world to become fully grounded in the faith. "To whom much is given, of them much will be required."

Thanks Marksfan,

I agree about getting our own house in order. For many years I have been a "church-hopper" and have not settled down to be a knitted-in member of any group. I am hoping that my current church will not disappoint me as others have.

There are certain things that I look for where I attend church.

#1 is sound Biblical teaching! I have been a believer long enough, and studied the Bible deeply enough, that I can pretty well pick up on something that is off-base. If it is minor I can overlook it, but often it is a deep rift in the faith, and I've had to leave churches for that reason.

#2 is an opportunity to serve. Just being a pew-warmer is not much fun for me, even when I love the sermons.

If I have these two, I can tolerate some other things.

What is important to you, in a church?

(Notice that I have made a difference between Church - the Body of Christ - and church, the local place of worship.)

Teke
Jan 8th 2008, 08:50 PM
If Christianity is indeed a World Religion, what does that mean to us?


Many are misled when they believe that Christianity is only a "religion".

9Marksfan
Jan 8th 2008, 08:55 PM
Thanks Marksfan,

I agree about getting our own house in order. For many years I have been a "church-hopper" and have not settled down to be a knitted-in member of any group. I am hoping that my current church will not disappoint me as others have.

There are certain things that I look for where I attend church.

#1 is sound Biblical teaching! I have been a believer long enough, and studied the Bible deeply enough, that I can pretty well pick up on something that is off-base. If it is minor I can overlook it, but often it is a deep rift in the faith, and I've had to leave churches for that reason.

#2 is an opportunity to serve. Just being a pew-warmer is not much fun for me, even when I love the sermons.

If I have these two, I can tolerate some other things.

What is important to you, in a church?

(Notice that I have made a difference between Church - the Body of Christ - and church, the local place of worship.)

Yes, these would be my top two priorities as well. I think a warm and united fellowship is really important too - it's entirely possible for a doctrinally sound church to be as dead as a doornail, because there is no love there and age-old grudges held by some of its members - that can be the death knell to a church as much as false doctrine.

I also believe a heart for mission is crucial too - you'd think that would be automatic if the church was sound in doctrine, but not necessarily so! The ghetto mentality is very easy to fall into!

RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 09:14 PM
Yes, these would be my top two priorities as well. I think a warm and united fellowship is really important too - it's entirely possible for a doctrinally sound church to be as dead as a doornail, because there is no love there and age-old grudges held by some of its members - that can be the death knell to a church as much as false doctrine.

I also believe a heart for mission is crucial too - you'd think that would be automatic if the church was sound in doctrine, but not necessarily so! The ghetto mentality is very easy to fall into!

Great thoughts, Marksfan. I am in agreement with both of those. The church is after all, made up of people. So how we treat each other there is very important.

I'm glad to report that my current church has a heart for missions. This is to be a year of reaching out, and mission trips is an important part of that.

If the church is sound in doctrine, but does not have a heart for missions, do you think that an important piece of doctrine might be missing? That makes me think. Perhaps just being in agreement with what I hear is not enough. I need to examine whether a full doctrine is being preached. Come to think of it, I think that happens at a church that preaches through a book at a time, rather than topical sermons.

RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 09:15 PM
Many are misled when they believe that Christianity is only a "religion".

Hi Teke,

I agree with you, but would you expand on what is different about Christianity? and are there branches of "Christianity" are religion without being that "something else" you are talking about?

Teke
Jan 8th 2008, 09:57 PM
Well I just mean that Christianity is found in the life of the people. My own religious affiliation with Orthodoxy has shown me that without the desert fathers and/or monastics, Orthodoxy would just be another religion like any religion. I see God's wisdom in such things. As I am but a fool compared with those who have literally followed Christ as He said to.

What would Israels religion have been without the prophets........

But God is merciful toward us, as are those I mention here. In that they share a wealth of experience and wisdom for us to share with them within the Body of Christ, His Church.

Sermons and evangelism are one thing (ie. lip service), but a literal witness is a whole other thing, if you know what I mean. :saint:

RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 10:13 PM
Well I just mean that Christianity is found in the life of the people. My own religious affiliation with Orthodoxy has shown me that without the desert fathers and/or monastics, Orthodoxy would just be another religion like any religion. I see God's wisdom in such things. As I am but a fool compared with those who have literally followed Christ as He said to.

What would Israels religion have been without the prophets........

But God is merciful toward us, as are those I mention here. In that they share a wealth of experience and wisdom for us to share with them within the Body of Christ, His Church.

Sermons and evangelism are one thing (ie. lip service), but a literal witness is a whole other thing, if you know what I mean. :saint:

Thanks for sharing, Teke. I think I know what you mean. You are placing a high value on the eyewitness accounts, and those who give the testimony of having actual contact with the Holy God. If I'm incorrect, enlighten me.

I'm glad I asked, as I expected you to go in a different direction! Many people will say now that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. That's where I expected you to go with this.

In the US, we are less familiar with Orthodoxy, more familiar with RCC, and most familiar with Protestanism. But even our knowledge of the latter is pretty sketchy. It takes a lot of work to learn the background, and the history, of our faith! I should have put Judaism in there somewhere, that is the origin of our history, but am not quite sure where to put it. Somewhat less familiar than with RCC, maybe.

Teke
Jan 8th 2008, 10:29 PM
"Many people will say now that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship."
Yes, they would go so far as to say it is ONLY a relationship of faith. A sort of fideism (def.- reliance on faith rather than reason in pursuit of religious truth). But what good is faith without reason. Jesus never called for such a thing.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD:
from Isaiah 1:18

Teke
Jan 8th 2008, 10:40 PM
Thanks Marksfan,

I agree about getting our own house in order. For many years I have been a "church-hopper" and have not settled down to be a knitted-in member of any group. I am hoping that my current church will not disappoint me as others have.

There are certain things that I look for where I attend church.

#1 is sound Biblical teaching! I have been a believer long enough, and studied the Bible deeply enough, that I can pretty well pick up on something that is off-base. If it is minor I can overlook it, but often it is a deep rift in the faith, and I've had to leave churches for that reason.

#2 is an opportunity to serve. Just being a pew-warmer is not much fun for me, even when I love the sermons.

If I have these two, I can tolerate some other things.

What is important to you, in a church?

(Notice that I have made a difference between Church - the Body of Christ - and church, the local place of worship.)

What should be most important is Christ in you. If your mind, body and spirit are being nourished by Christ in worship to Him, then His Body, the Church, is serving it's purpose.

We should think of the Church as Christ in His humanity, with all the imperfections that implies. And yet we are not to forget His divinity as well, which His Church also possesses. :)

Stefen
Jan 8th 2008, 10:52 PM
To love the "Church" is to love Jesus the Christ. The church is one with the Christ. Many of you speak of the Church as an organization instead of a living being. These are basic foundations of Jesus the Christ. The Church is not the building, or the programs, or preachers and pullpits, it is the children of God from all nations united in Jesus the Messiah. Look around at the believers near you and know that you behold the image of God and His kingdom.

For the sake of God's good name we need to live as we truly are!

RoadWarrior
Jan 8th 2008, 11:32 PM
To love the "Church" is to love Jesus the Christ. The church is one with the Christ. Many of you speak of the Church as an organization instead of a living being. These are basic foundations of Jesus the Christ. The Church is not the building, or the programs, or preachers and pullpits, it is the children of God from all nations united in Jesus the Messiah. Look around at the believers near you and know that you behold the image of God and His kingdom.

For the sake of God's good name we need to live as we truly are!

Wow, if we are the image of God ... umm, does He need a shave? Or a bath? Or to see a doctor for all those scars? I am thinking that we don't present a very attractive image of Him. :( I think He must frown a lot, and yell a lot and argue and be angry a lot .. Or wait, is that only those who are pretending to be Christians?

Your comments speak to why I said that I differentiate between Church and church. There is the Living Being, and there are the organizations.

Stefen
Jan 9th 2008, 06:54 PM
I am thinking that we don't present a very attractive image of Him. :(

I am thinking that you are foucsing on the fleshy things instead of the spiritual. When I refered to seeing the image of God I was speaking about the image of His person not His appearence. ;)

RoadWarrior
Jan 9th 2008, 09:14 PM
I am thinking that you are foucsing on the fleshy things instead of the spiritual. When I refered to seeing the image of God I was speaking about the image of His person not His appearence. ;)


Sorry Stefen, I confused you I'm afraid. I was speaking allegorically, meaning for it to be taken as spiritual imagery.

What I had in mind was the poor image that Christians sometimes (often?) project to unbelievers. We should be "known as Christians by our love" for each other and for others, but too often we are more interested in debate, argument, and winning the disagreement. Your post startled me into thinking about what a poor image we can be to the world, of what God really is like.

God is lovely, completely. We are not very lovely, much of the time. But, as you indicated, we should be.

Stefen
Jan 9th 2008, 09:21 PM
Sorry Stefen, I confused you I'm afraid. I was speaking allegorically, meaning for it to be taken as spiritual imagery.

What I had in mind was the poor image that Christians sometimes (often?) project to unbelievers. We should be "known as Christians by our love" for each other and for others, but too often we are more interested in debate, argument, and winning the disagreement. Your post startled me into thinking about what a poor image we can be to the world, of what God really is like.

God is lovely, completely. We are not very lovely, much of the time. But, as you indicated, we should be.

LOL!, sorry I misunderstood your former reply, now that understand what you are saying I must agree with you.:)

RoadWarrior
Jan 9th 2008, 09:31 PM
LOL!, sorry I misunderstood your former reply, now that understand what you are saying I must agree with you.:)

:D Isn't communication a wonderful thing!

Actually this is part of my concern and why I opened this thread. I believe that the backlash against the church, and against Christianity, goes back to the way the church and Christians have treated each other and others.

Do we really think that the church is good? We hunger after a "good" church. We long for a place of fellowship that fulfills our view of what church "should" be like and most of us have difficulty finding it.

Still, I believe the the Church is good. It is just mostly invisible. What is mostly visible is the church, and the backlash against it.

May God grant us eyes to see His true Church.

Stefen
Jan 9th 2008, 09:56 PM
:D Isn't communication a wonderful thing!

Actually this is part of my concern and why I opened this thread. I believe that the backlash against the church, and against Christianity, goes back to the way the church and Christians have treated each other and others.

Do we really think that the church is good? We hunger after a "good" church. We long for a place of fellowship that fulfills our view of what church "should" be like and most of us have difficulty finding it.

Still, I believe the the Church is good. It is just mostly invisible. What is mostly visible is the church, and the backlash against it.

May God grant us eyes to see His true Church.

Amen amen. Nothing could be more true.

Frances
Jan 10th 2008, 06:06 PM
There are certain things that I look for where I attend church.

#1 is sound Biblical teaching! I have been a believer long enough, and studied the Bible deeply enough, that I can pretty well pick up on something that is off-base. If it is minor I can overlook it, but often it is a deep rift in the faith, and I've had to leave churches for that reason.

#2 is an opportunity to serve. Just being a pew-warmer is not much fun for me, even when I love the sermons.

If I have these two, I can tolerate some other things.

What is important to you, in a church?


I think a warm and united fellowship is really important too - it's entirely possible for a doctrinally sound church to be as dead as a doornail, because there is no love there and age-old grudges held by some of its members - that can be the death knell to a church as much as false doctrine.

I also believe a heart for mission is crucial too - you'd think that would be automatic if the church was sound in doctrine, but not necessarily so! The ghetto mentality is very easy to fall into!

I agree with both of you. I also agree that no relationship with Jesus Christ = no Christian.

Perhaps one reason that Christians disagree icould be that if we know, and have a wonderfully fulfilling relationship Jesus, we want others to experience that too - and are concerned that some views expressed may be excluding those that hold them from the Freedom in Christ we enjoy. . . (?)

RoadWarrior
Jan 10th 2008, 11:21 PM
I agree with both of you. I also agree that no relationship with Jesus Christ = no Christian.

Perhaps one reason that Christians disagree icould be that if we know, and have a wonderfully fulfilling relationship Jesus, we want others to experience that too - and are concerned that some views expressed may be excluding those that hold them from the Freedom in Christ we enjoy. . . (?)

Frances you make two excellent points. I had not considered that people might be attending church for some other reason than that they have a relationship with Jesus. But there are those - who come for the lifestyle, or for the social aspects, or ... whatever.

As for disagreeing - yes I think you are right. When we have that deep love in our hearts, we know that those who do not have it are missing something wonderful. We want to draw them in. Surely, if we just tell them the truth, they will see it, and want to come into the Freedom.

But it doesn't necessarily happen. I always worry that maybe I was not sufficiently winsome in my expression, so that they could see the winsomeness of Jesus.

jeffreys
Jan 14th 2008, 02:14 PM
I absolutely love "going to church" at the church I now pastor! I know it sounds weird to say that, but as a pastor I can assure you that there are churches that are nothing short of toxic. And that is very, very sad! It's not just difficult/impossible for the pastor, but stifling for everybody else as well.



One of the things I love about the church I pastor is a hunger for the word of God. Yesterday's sermon was on "tithes in the Old Testament". I read several long passages from Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, 2nd Chronicles & Malachi. When I'd say, "Let's look at Deuteronomy 26," almost every head went down, and the sound of pages turning was all you could hear. Music to the ears!!!!

Another thing I love about the church I pastor is a desire to be God's hands & feet in our community - starting in the church itself. The expectation is that if there is a need, we are going to try to meet it and resolve it.

Yet another thing I love about the church I pastor is a very real desire to be "transformed by the renewing of your minds." In fact, just last night in a Bible Study, we were talking about the Greek word metamorphoo - and all its implications. And there was no question that we're all to work on our own metamorphosis, and lead others to do the same in their lives.

And finally, our worship through music is wonderful (I certainly don't lead it!). It's not a show. It's not a rock concert, but certainly is not a dirge. It's just very moving and powerful. I love it.

Finally, the church is actually growing in an area of the city where nothing is supposed to grow! And that growth is a by-product of the above-mentioned things, not a result of focusing on growth.


To be certain, I cannot take any credit for our church being this way. I've only been here about a year-and-a-half. The former pastor & his wife (who are still in the church) deserve a great deal of credit for what they did over their 18-year ministry here.

I couldn't be happier. And most of you have no idea how rare it is for a pastor to be able to honestly say that! :)

RoadWarrior
Jan 14th 2008, 04:53 PM
I absolutely love "going to church" at the church I now pastor! ...I couldn't be happier. And most of you have no idea how rare it is for a pastor to be able to honestly say that! :)

Jeffreys, thank you for a GREAT post! What a wonderful testimony that is, of the people in your church.

I hope that more people will speak up here about good churches which they attend. This board has way too much contention and not enough encouragement, IMO. I have begun to think that the people on these forums are representative of what is really inside our churches. I fear that we spend way too much time biting and devouring one another.

May the Lord lead us away from that and toward genuine fellowship and support, that we might be a true face to the world of the love of God!

jiggyfly
Jan 15th 2008, 01:28 PM
..do we believe that?

I'd like to test the waters, so to speak. A comment was made recently to the effect that it is better for a Christian forum to have more posts regarding what is good about the church, than to have more posts that are attacking some aspects of the church.

I suspect that the reason the balance goes in the other direction is because there is more "fun" in fighting than there is in praising. But I could be wrong.

I've started this post in World Religions because I'd like to be able to hear both sides. Let's talk about why we love the Church, the Body of Christ. But also, lets consider those subjects that are often in "attack threads" that might be bringing harm and danger into our Body.

If we truly love the Church, then we are instructed to contend earnestly for the faith.

Jude 3-4
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
NKJV


If Christianity is indeed a World Religion, what does that mean to us?

Thanks for being thoughtful as you post.

I think Christianity has become a world religion in the sense that it is a religious preference rather than a spiritual reality. The problem is few have the ability to discern the difference between man's religious workings and the church Jesus is building, the body of Christ. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to what constitutes the body of Christ today and is very resident here at this forum as well. Isn't the faith we are commanded to defend, faith in Christ Himself?



Christ’s Waning Authority in the Church
(A.W. Tozer – extracts)
Here is the burden of my heart; and while I claim for myself no special inspiration I yet feel that this is also the burden of the Spirit.
If I know my own heart, it is love alone that moves me to write this. What I write here is not the sour ferment of a mind agitated by contentions with my fellow Christians. There have been no such contentions. I have not been abused, mistreated or attacked by anyone. Nor have these observations grown out of any unpleasant experiences that I have had in my association with others. My relations with my own church as well as with Christians of other denominations have been friendly, courteous and pleasant. My grief is simply the result of a condition which I believe to be almost universally prevalent among the churches.
I think also that I should acknowledge that I am myself very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession included himself among the wrong-doers, so do I. “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens” (Ezra 9:6). Any hard word spoken here against others must in simple honesty return upon my own head. I too have been guilty. This is written with the hope that we all may turn unto the Lord our God and sin no more against Him.

…… “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” or “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them.
Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing.
The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion……… The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.
What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.
To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them…... We evangelicals also know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.
Yet Christ is consulted by increasing numbers of persons with “problems” and sought after by those who long for peace of mind. He is widely recommended as a kind of spiritual psychiatrist with remarkable powers to straighten people out. He is able to deliver them from their guilt complexes and to help them to avoid serious psychic traumas by making a smooth and easy adjustment to society and to their own ids. Of course this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people.
But I suppose I should offer some concrete proof to support my charge that Christ has little or no authority today among the churches. Well, let me put a few questions and let the answers be the evidence.
What church board consults our Lord’s words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or “a season of prayer”; after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it.
Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table with him for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yet. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second……
In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.
What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?
… The causes back of the decline in our Lord’s authority are many. I name only two.
One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. These like gravitation affect every particle of religious practice within the group, exerting a steady and constant pressure in one direction. Of course that direction is toward conformity to the status quo. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation….
The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned…….
Our evangelical faith (which I believe to be the true faith of Christ and His apostles) is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.
He speaks in the sacred jargon of the schools, and many of our half-educated evangelicals run to fawn on him. He tosses academic degrees to the scrambling sons of the prophets…. The evangelicals who, with some justification, have been accused of lacking true scholarship, now grab for these status symbols with shining eyes, and when they get them they are scarcely able to believe their eyes. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighbourhood church choir might were she to be invited to sing at La Scala!
For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others?
All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.
What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonoured our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.

jiggyfly
Jan 16th 2008, 01:24 PM
What is the Church? (http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000433.html)
by T. Austin-Sparks


"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Corinthians 1:26-31)

What is the Church? It is Christ in living union with His own. That is the Church.
You do not build a special building and call it "the Church". You do not have a special organization — a religious institution — which you call "the Church". Believers in living union with the risen Lord constitute Church. This is the reality, not the figure.

Now, in union with Christ risen, all human limitations are transcended. This is one of the wonders of Christ risen as a living reality. We are brought into a realm of capacities which are more than human capacities, where — because of Christ in us — we can do what we never could do naturally.

Our relationships are new relationships — they are with heaven. Our resources are new resources — they are in heaven. That is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians that God hath chosen weak things, the foolish things, the things which are not... that by them He might bring to naught the wise, the mighty, the things which are. Why did God appoint it so? Because it is not by might, nor by power, but by His Spirit... and to show that there are powers, energies, and abilities for His own which transcend all the greatest powers and abilities of this world.

That is the history of God's people... and that is where so many people go wrong. Men of the world look upon Christians and, for the most part, do not think much of them. They measure them by the standards of the world and say: "Well, they are rather a poor lot; their caliber is not much!".

But that is God's way, and the world never can measure that. Nor can that be done by human wisdom, strength, or ability at its greatest. God has chosen weak things for that. Why? Simply because weak things, in their dependence, are the best instruments — the best means — of allowing God to show that such works are not of any human sufficiency at all... but all of Himself.

Please do not take comfort from the fact that God has chosen weak things and foolish things... and say: "Well, I am that — and therefore it is all right!" The point is: Are you, in God's hand, bringing to naught the mighty and the wise? Is it not a case of our resting back on our weakness and our foolishness and our nothingness... and our saying: "That applies to me; that is all right; that is all that matters!"
That is not all that matters. The thing that matters is that I — being weak — may know resurrection union with Christ in all His might and power; and, in that union with Him, mighty spiritual things should be done through me. That is the positive side.

We may know the Lord in a personal and inward way. We may draw upon the Lord's resources in a personal and inward way. All that the Lord has is available to us inwardly. Heaven is no longer closed when we are united with Christ on the ground of His atoning work.

mcgyver
Jan 16th 2008, 03:21 PM
I heard a story told many years back, which is a wonderful illustration of the Church:

After His ascension, Jesus was talking to the angel Gabriel...

Gabriel said: "Lord, we watched what you did for people on earth, how you suffered for them, how you showed your love for them. But Lord, do they know what you have done for them?"

Jesus answered and said: "Not all, just a few in Palestine know what I have done as of yet."

Gabriel asked: "Well Lord, how are you going to let everyone know about the love you have for them...what you've done?"

Jesus said: "I've told them to go and tell everyone about the great love I have for people, and of the sacrifice I've made for them."

Gabriel (knowing full well men's weakness) asked doubtfully: "But Lord, what happens if they get tired? What happens if they decide not to tell other people about you? What other plan do you have?"

Jesus answered: "None...I'm depending on them!"

Isn't it a great and awesome thought to consider that Jesus Christ Himself has left us (His Church) to do His work? What a privilege! :pp

jiggyfly
Jan 16th 2008, 09:37 PM
I heard a story told many years back, which is a wonderful illustration of the Church:

After His ascension, Jesus was talking to the angel Gabriel...

Gabriel said: "Lord, we watched what you did for people on earth, how you suffered for them, how you showed your love for them. But Lord, do they know what you have done for them?"

Jesus answered and said: "Not all, just a few in Palestine know what I have done as of yet."

Gabriel asked: "Well Lord, how are you going to let everyone know about the love you have for them...what you've done?"

Jesus said: "I've told them to go and tell everyone about the great love I have for people, and of the sacrifice I've made for them."

Gabriel (knowing full well men's weakness) asked doubtfully: "But Lord, what happens if they get tired? What happens if they decide not to tell other people about you? What other plan do you have?"

Jesus answered: "None...I'm depending on them!"

Isn't it a great and awesome thought to consider that Jesus Christ Himself has left us (His Church) to do His work? What a privilege! :pp

So you think that Father's plan being fulfilled is dependent on man?

Jesus is building the church and we are called to be witnesses to what He is doing. The work of the Gospel is not us working for God it is God working through us.

mcgyver
Jan 16th 2008, 10:43 PM
So you think that Father's plan being fulfilled is dependent on man?

God is sovereign and He will accomplish His plan....but He uses imperfect men to accomplish His perfect will :rolleyes:


Jesus is building the church and we are called to be witnesses to what He is doing. The work of the Gospel is not us working for God it is God working through us.

Hence the joy we should have doing His work...For He is working effectually in us (Phil 1:6)

RoadWarrior
Jan 16th 2008, 10:53 PM
God is sovereign and He will accomplish His plan....but He uses imperfect men to accomplish His perfect will :rolleyes:



Hence the joy we should have doing His work...For He is working effectually in us (Phil 1:6)

Thank you, JiggyFly and McGyver,

Do either of you find it a struggle to know what and how to "do his work"? I feel that I have had a few false starts, thinking I know what God wants me to do. Then what I thought it would be didn't pan out, but still I see God using me in other ways.

I'm glad to see that at least a couple of people are interested in this thread!

jiggyfly
Jan 17th 2008, 12:03 PM
Thank you, JiggyFly and McGyver,

Do either of you find it a struggle to know what and how to "do his work"? I feel that I have had a few false starts, thinking I know what God wants me to do. Then what I thought it would be didn't pan out, but still I see God using me in other ways.

I'm glad to see that at least a couple of people are interested in this thread!

The new testament is full of examples but carnal man has misunderstood and misrepresented these examples. Thus the clergy/laity system , planting churches or building churches which are a result of carnal thinking.

We say its all about Jesus but then we want to be recognized by our fellow man for "what we have done for the Lord".

Luke 17:5-10
5 One day the apostles said to the Lord, “We need more faith; tell us how to get it.”
6 “Even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed,” the Lord answered, “you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May God uproot you and throw you into the sea,’ and it would obey you!
7 “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, he doesn’t just sit down and eat. 8 He must first prepare his master’s meal and serve him his supper before eating his own. 9 And the servant is not even thanked, because he is merely doing what he is supposed to do. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.’”

Here is some good material on maturing spiritually.

Unto Full Stature by Devern Fromke
http://www.kingsleypress.com/unto_full_stature.php

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/001490.html

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000528.html

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/000014.html

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/gods_spiritual_house.html

http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/the_stewardship_of_the_mystery_volume_1.html
http://www.austin-sparks.net/english/books/the_stewardship_of_the_mystery_volume_2.html

mcgyver
Jan 17th 2008, 04:59 PM
Thank you, JiggyFly and McGyver,

Do either of you find it a struggle to know what and how to "do his work"? I feel that I have had a few false starts, thinking I know what God wants me to do. Then what I thought it would be didn't pan out, but still I see God using me in other ways.

I'm glad to see that at least a couple of people are interested in this thread!

I think that every Christian struggles with that to some extent at some time.

It has been my experience, that in seeking to "be sure" that something is God's will for us, we can end up in state of stasis...That is to say that; we can become so "wrapped around the axle" of whether God REALLY wants us to do something...the we become afraid of doing anything...if that makes any sense..:P

In my own life, and I have found this to be true in many other lives as well, God uses what I call "The breadcrumb approach". He'll open a door...put something on our hearts...a "breadcrumb". As we pluck up that first crumb, we look around and...there's another one. We pick that one up...look around and there's yet another.

With each crumb, our faith is strengthened...and when we take a moment and look back...we see how God, by His hand has moved us into the work that He has planned for us.

I don't think that we have to be worried about whether He wants us to walk through the door...We simply need to start walking and trust that God will both close and open doors (Rom 8:28 comes to mind).

That and remember what is written in James: If you lack wisdom, ask of God and He will give you that wisdom!

RoadWarrior
Jan 17th 2008, 11:29 PM
I think that every Christian struggles with that to some extent at some time.

It has been my experience, that in seeking to "be sure" that something is God's will for us, we can end up in state of stasis...That is to say that; we can become so "wrapped around the axle" of whether God REALLY wants us to do something...the we become afraid of doing anything...if that makes any sense..:P

In my own life, and I have found this to be true in many other lives as well, God uses what I call "The breadcrumb approach". He'll open a door...put something on our hearts...a "breadcrumb". As we pluck up that first crumb, we look around and...there's another one. We pick that one up...look around and there's yet another.

With each crumb, our faith is strengthened...and when we take a moment and look back...we see how God, by His hand has moved us into the work that He has planned for us.

I don't think that we have to be worried about whether He wants us to walk through the door...We simply need to start walking and trust that God will both close and open doors (Rom 8:28 comes to mind).

That and remember what is written in James: If you lack wisdom, ask of God and He will give you that wisdom!

I like the breadcrumb analogy. Jesus is the bread of life, and it is enough right now to have the crumbs. I'm reminded of the Samaritan woman who said, even the little dogs under the table get the crumbs the children drop on the floor.

This week at church I sat by a person who was also alone. After service, I struck up a conversation with her. She told me she had been attending this church for two years, and still doesn't know anyone. I think I've found a breadcrumb, and I'll share it with her.

Thanks.