So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Some thoughts about the local church...

Commitment and the essential importance of having a connection with a local church is something that most churches don't actually teach these days. It seems to be that in this era, people think that they can be part of the body of Christ in whatever way they find suits their personal preferences. That's a horribly harmful idea that, when factored in with our own penchant to disobey the Lord (even the redeemed struggle with sin), consistently leads one away from where they should be.

Here's some reasons why having a commitment to a local church is important:

1. It's commanded. Plain and simple biblical imperative. Hebrews 10:25 says "Let us not five up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing..."

2. It's a question of submission. Ephesians 5:24 says that the church submits to Christ. John 14:23 says "f anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching." Part of the great commission is to evangelize and then be "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:20.

If you are a Christian, you must submit to the Lordship of Christ and let him tell you what to do. If you live a life marked by disobedience to Christ's commands and Lordship, you have no business thinking you're a Christian.

And seeing that as Christians, we are grafted into his body, which IS the church (Eph 5:23, Col. 1:18, 24). If you are a Christian, you're automatically part of the body of Christ, meaning you're part of the church universal.

3. But, I cannot have fellowship with the church universal. And there are a ton of "one another" commands in scripture:

- "Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves." (Romans 12:10)

- "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." (Romans 12:16)

- "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13:8)

- "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Romans 14:13)

- "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." (Romans 15:7)

- "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Corinthians 1:10)

- "But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13)

- "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." (Ephesians 4:2)

- "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)

- Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." (Ephesians 5:19)

- "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Ephesians 5:21)

- "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13)

- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16)

- "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

- "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Hebrews 3:13)

- "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:24-25)

- "Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it." (James 4:11)

- "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." (1 Peter 1:22)

- "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble." (1 Peter 3:8)

- "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Peter 4:9)

- "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

- "This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another." (1 John 3:11)

- "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." (1 John 3:23)

- "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." (1 John 4:7)

- "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:11-12)

I would suggest that all these "one another" statements CANNOT happen in some ambiguous way via the church universal. I mean, 1 John 1:7 says"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

Walking in the light (living uprightly) means that we will have fellowship with one another.

If one remove oneself from the fellowship, it's quite reasonable to question whether one is then "walking in the light".

So, here's the bottom line:

If you're a Christian, you are called to submit to Christ and you're automatically part of his church. If you remove yourself from that local expression of his church (and you're ability to obey all the "one another" imperatives in scripture) for whatever reason you have, you're also choosing to remove yourself from the local expression of Christ's body, and your commitment to Jesus is rightly in question.

What this does NOT mean:

1. If you ever miss a week of church you're going straight to hell.

2. If your church is a lousy church, you just buckle down and keep trudging.

3. Anyone who's ever left "the church" is automatically going straight to hell.

What this DOES mean:

1. Bedside Baptist is not a real church. You cannot do Christ's church your own way. You do it his way. Worshipping in the mountains is great, but it's not a replacement for the local expression of Christ's body.

2. If you attend a lousy church, then you need to find a decent church that teaches the truth and lives in obedience to the word of God.

3. If you're struggling here, you most likely do NOT have a problem with Church. You most likely have a problem with submission to Christ. You most likely have issues with sin. As yourself how's your prayer life (hour a day or more?). How's your devotional life? (What did you learn in your study of scripture today?) Where are you serving in your church? (Are you plugged in where you're at?) Can you name the 5 major sins you're fighting and lay out your strategy for battle? (Are you seeking to destroy sin and obey the Lord?)

I talk to people, time and again, who are "struggling with church". I ask them all those basic "where are you at spiritually" questions, and they bomb out consistently. I mean, if a person has a lousy prayer life, hasn't studied the Bible in 2 months (or years), is only attending and not serving anywhere at church, and doesn't know where they're fighting sin, that means they're not plugged in to either the Lord or his church. It's always amazing how consistently, people who are spiritually doing horrible are having spiritual struggles. Not exactly rocket science there. I believe that's called a "plank in the eye". (Matthew 7:1-6 - having a beef with how crappy your church is when you're the one who's actually doing really crappy...)

4. If you're struggling with church and you're answering yes to all the "spiritual inventory' questions (i.e. you're in prayer, in the word, plugged in and serving in your church, and you're actively fight sin) and you're STILL struggling with your church, then you're either so far gone that you think you're a saint when really you need counseling...

OR...

You're attending a lousy church. Are you lining up with them theologically? Is your church teaching bed doctrine? Are they not practicing what they're being taught?

It IS possible to be a saint in a horrid church, but this is not too common.

If this is you, then get into a good bible teaching, obedient body of believers.

This is a firm post to anyone who reads this and thinks that they can survive outside the church. If you think that, you're horribly mistaken. Don't leave Christ's body just because there are schmucks and hypocrites in it. The hypocrites need to be weeded out or called to repent, the schmucks need to be educated and you need to learn to submit to the one you claim as Lord.


Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

2 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Good stuff.

Frank Turk and Mark Dever would be real proud.

Chris

7:07 PM

 
Blogger carla said...

Very good.

Been there. Sadly left a church that had lots of good, but a bit of false teaching thrown in behind the scenes. Like the cup of clean water with one drop of arsenic, we just couldn't swallow it.

Some churches (parts of the body) are toxic, sick, and need surgery, or a cleansing fast, lest the infection spreads. If they don't respond to the 'anti-biotics' (God's Word, discernment), it's time to leave.

11:31 AM

 

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