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« Reaching Hearts and Minds | Main | Kissling and Michelman Refuse to Dismiss Pro-Lifers as Irrelevant »

January 24, 2008

Comments

This is one of the most incoherent aspects of modern Christianity. To think that one can have Jesus without His beloved body makes no sense. The Church is the primary means of grace and life for the believer. In fact, it ought to be understood that to be outside of a true church of Christ is to be outside of the faith--lost. It is like a vine without a root, it cannot survive long without the nourishment of the root.

That this thought can be considered, that one can have Jesus and not the church speaks badly for those who are part of the true church. It shows a low esteem for proper worhsip of God, that someone thinks he can please God on his own terms.

Brad B

>>That this thought can be considered, that one can have Jesus and not the church speaks badly for those who are part of the true church.

Brad, I would hope that Christians would not feel this way! I wouldn't say this is an "aspect of modern Christianity" (except in extreme cases), but rather, it's an aspect of our secular society. The study was only about what *non-Christians* think of the church. Kimball's assertion is that Christians need to do a better job of communicating the truth about Christianity *and* about the church to those who have developed an idea of church based on stereotypes they picked up in the media rather than from knowing real Christians. He would say this "speaks badly for those who are part of the true church" because it means we haven't been doing a good job of communicating the truth to those who aren't Christians.

(I agree to a certain extent, but I'm not as optimistic that non-Christians will ever have a largely positive view of the church no matter how good a job we do. After all, people hated Jesus, and could He have done any better?)

Dan Kimball and most of the emergent church don't understand why people love "Jesus" but not the "church". They love Jesus because they love a "Jesus" that doesn't exist. Their "Jesus":

1. Doesn't judge homosexuality.
2. Doesn't talk about sin and repentance.
3. Allows "good" Muslims, Jews and etc into Heaven.
4. Would never want to make it illegal for a mother to slaughter her child.
5. Embraces evolution.

Of course people hate the church and the real Jesus. All one has to do is read the Bible but emergents tend to use the Bible as much as people such as Joel Olsteen and Benny Hinn.

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

Brad said,
"To think that one can have Jesus without His beloved body makes no sense. The Church is the primary means of grace and life for the believer."

You are absolutely right about that. We need to counter any trends of people attempting to make the Christian life into a solo affair.

"That this thought can be considered, that one can have Jesus and not the church speaks badly for those who are part of the true church."

Right. But that is not what Brett was talking about, nor is it what Dan Kimball suggests. They don't try to separate following Jesus from being in the Church. Rather, they're asking, "How did we get here, where people have these perceptions?"

Part of the reason we got here is that people base their views of the Church on caricatures they get from their own biases and from movies & TV & the news. But part of it is because the visible "Church" does not always represent Jesus well. (Both because the visible Church includes people who are not really Christians, and because Christians don't always do well.) To the extent that the latter is true, we should seek to correct the situation. (And we should be very discerning about whatever Dan Kimball suggests for change. His diagnosis has merit, but is not perfect in every detail.)

Matt,

Yes, much of the Emerging Church has that version Jesus, and you're right to criticize it.

I don't know where you got the idea that Dan Kimball preaches such a Jesus. It doesn't match what I read in his book. If he did preach such things, STR certainly wouldn't be endorsing him.

Matt wrote:

"Dan Kimball and most of the emergent church don't understand why people love "Jesus" but not the "church". They love Jesus because they love a "Jesus" that doesn't exist. Their "Jesus":

1. Doesn't judge homosexuality.
2. Doesn't talk about sin and repentance.
3. Allows "good" Muslims, Jews and etc into Heaven.
4. Would never want to make it illegal for a mother to slaughter her child.
5. Embraces evolution.

Of course people hate the church and the real Jesus. All one has to do is read the Bible but emergents tend to use the Bible as much as people such as Joel Olsteen and Benny Hinn.

John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."

and I agree.

>>Dan Kimball and most of the emergent church don't understand why people love "Jesus" but not the "church". They love Jesus because they love a "Jesus" that doesn't exist.

Actually, if I recall correctly (and I think I do because your comment was my first reaction, as well, when I picked up his book), Dan acknowledges this in his book.

What Dan is pointing out is that people are open to hearing us talk about Jesus because they have a positive view of Him, not because they have a right view of Him.

Other people's view of God is not necessarily altogether wrong; God just looks that way from a distance.

Alvin How is a persons view right if they hold a wrong perception? Doesn't that make it necessarily wrong? When one realizes that they are far from God and those around them are urging them to move closer; Doesn't their choosing to remain where they are make that perception not only wrong but dishonest or possibly a mirage?

Brad B. What do you mean by Church? I am especially curious of your use of the words "A true church" Is there more than one? I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I have confessed my sin, repented, been baptized, I have received Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am part of the body of believers and part of the church. I love Jesus Christ and am committed to Him. God Loves us and Jesus is the means of Grace not the Church. Are you saying that inside the Church is to be part of the Body of believers who follow Jesus or are you equivocating church with bricks and mortar? I find myself outside the bricks and mortar church a lot. I trust Gods word that says I am not lost. Jesus says that He is the Vine and we are the branches. I get my nourishment from Him. Many Churched people are tired of these pastors acting on their wants and "stepping out in faith" to build a new building that they can not afford. They lock themselves into large mortgages and God loves a cheerful giver sermons. They have become Gospel entertainers. We go to church to be fed and walk away hungry. Yes there is a question in there. Are we getting nourishment from the root or are we trying to poison it? Talking to the unchurched is too narrow a scope. There are many churched people that are leaving the pews because they want to be near Jesus. I live in Mormon country. Do you know what my Pastor wants? He wants the biggest Southern Baptist Church in Utah. There has been a Bible study going on for some time. The man conducting it also goes to the Mormon Church with his wife when he is not teaching the class. He does not belong there as a teacher with divided attention. I came to God on my knees. He changed my life. He put me on my feet and made a man of me. It is only by His Grace and on His terms that I find true happines and I believe that this pleases Him.


I am sorry that Lifeway chooses to only look at the "unchurched" aspect of the question. I have some Baptist Pastor friends and they are concerned with the Baptist CHURCHED people that are leaving to join the "Kingdom of the Cults" I would like Lifeway to address that. If they have I would love to know where I could read about it from the top.

Brad and Matt and AC -

This is Dan --- and Amy has written exactly what I wrote about and understands what the book is about. The people I write about who "like Jesus" generally are thinking of Jesus not from a full biblical understanding of Him. That is the point of the book. It is exploring people's viewpoints like any missionary does when entering a different culture. But that interest in Jesus is a great beginning point of discussion which can then move to what the Scriptures actually say. Anyway, Amy said it exactly. It doesn't sound like you actually read the book or you would read things contrary to what you are concluding in your comments here.

I would also try to be careful not to make such broad generalizations about people who are involved in the emerging church circles. Also you should note that there is a distinction between "emerging" and "emergent".

AC - You stated that "they will hate you" (non-Christians all hating Christians) because Jesus said that to His disciples. You have to look at the context He was talking about and who those He was indicating would hate them. They would be hating them for confessing Jesus as Lord and Messiah. When I talk to people today, they aren't disturbed and not liking (or hating) Christians because we confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. They generally don't like us because of our stinky attitudes that we have displayed. Or our overly harsh approach to how we evangelize sometimes and that we don't often show people respect by listening to their opinions but that we want to do all the talking. The media also is guilty for creating over-the-top stereotypes of Christians or highlighting usually the negative things we do in the news.

I have never heard someone say they don't like Christians because of our faith in Jesus and belief in the gospel. They do not agree with the gospel, but that is not usually why they don't "like us". It is normally that they are not experiencing the fruit of the SPirit from Christians such as love, joy, patience, peace, kindness....

Yes, many will reject the gospel. But you do have to look at what Jesus was saying with that "hate" passage and the context and compare that to what we hear today as reasons. Assuming that all non-Christians will hate us is a self-fulfilling prophecy which then even changes our attitudes and actions and how we interact, befriend (or not), pray for, dialogue with etc. those outside the faith.

OK - wanted to jump in here and explain what the title of the book is - since you were talking about it in a way that isn't actually in the book itself (as Amy pointed out).

Peace in Jesus -----

Dan

I'd like to whole-heartedly agree with Alvin. We've been in a house fellowship for the past twenty years. We are followers of the Jesus of the Book. At best, the Book and Building worshippers regard us with benign condescension, and at worst we are shunned as either a cult or 'illegitimate'. We don't have whatever 'It', as far as the 'true church' is, but we persue 'It'.

Some say we have an authority problem. I'd say we have what looks to be a better grasp of who's authority the church is supposed to be under than most I've come across among the smorgasbord of personality idolaters.

Jesus is not a bearded woman. He is not effeminate. He doesn't require us to pay some man to go behind the curtain to find out what He wants us to know. I'd much rather see the faces of my brothers and sisters than the backs of their heads. Church happens seven days a week. The sputtering protestations of an impotent, ineffective religious business enterprise are unimpressive , not only to me, but apparently the 'unchurched' as well. By their fruit...

his is Dan --- and Amy has written exactly what I wrote about and understands what the book is about. The people I write about who "like Jesus" generally are thinking of Jesus not from a full biblical understanding of Him. That is the point of the book. It is exploring people's viewpoints like any missionary does when entering a different culture. But that interest in Jesus is a great beginning point of discussion which can then move to what the Scriptures actually say. Anyway, Amy said it exactly. It doesn't sound like you actually read the book or you would read things contrary to what you are concluding in your comments here.”

Matt Says:
Hi Dan, this would be the first time I have interacted with you and I welcome that interaction. I have noticed the emergent crowd does a good job of interacting with supporters and also those who disagree. I appreciate that. It shows that they do want to reach out with a message they believe is important.

Dan Says:
“I would also try to be careful not to make such broad generalizations about people who are involved in the emerging church circles. Also you should note that there is a distinction between "emerging" and "emergent". “

Matt Says:
I have been told before by emergent supporters that there is a distinction. No one has defined that distinction though which doesn’t surprise me since the emergent crowd isn’t very fond of giving clear definitions. You are more than welcome though to give one if you are willing. Also would you consider yourself emerging but nor emergent? How about Brian Mclaren?

Dan Says:
“AC - You stated that "they will hate you" (non-Christians all hating Christians) because Jesus said that to His disciples. You have to look at the context He was talking about and who those He was indicating would hate them. They would be hating them for confessing Jesus as Lord and Messiah. When I talk to people today, they aren't disturbed and not liking (or hating) Christians because we confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. They generally don't like us because of our stinky attitudes that we have displayed. Or our overly harsh approach to how we evangelize sometimes and that we don't often show people respect by listening to their opinions but that we want to do all the talking. The media also is guilty for creating over-the-top stereotypes of Christians or highlighting usually the negative things we do in the news. “

Matt Says:
You appear to be addressing this to AC but since I quoted the verse in my first post I will address this comment as well. You appear to make many assumptions here. I’ll mention two.

1. You assume when Jesus said they would hate you that it is only to mean that they hate because you confess Jesus as Lord and Messiah.

That is a very narrow interpretation of scripture. First of all it doesn’t say that is the specific reason why they would hate them. True, it is one of the reasons they hated them. You would need a lot more weight to your argument to convince me of your reasoning here. I will post some solid commentary to show that your narrow view of this verse isn’t so common.

John MacArthur (Study Bible):
John 15:18, 19 Since Satan is the one who dominates the evil world system in rebellion against God (14:30), the result is that the world hates not only Jesus, but those who follow Him (2 Tim. 3:12). Hatred toward Jesus means also hatred toward the Father who sent Him (v. 23).

Geneva Bible 1599:
John15:18 When the faithful ministers of Christ are hated by the world as their master was, it should not cause them to fear, but rather strengthen and encourage them.

Albert Barnes Commentary:
John 15:18 If the world hate you - The friendship of the world they were not to expect, but they were not to be deterred from their work by its hatred. They had seen the example of Jesus. No opposition of the proud, the wealthy, the learned, or the men of power, no persecution or gibes, had deterred him from his work. Remembering this, and having his example steadily in the eye, they were to labor not less because wicked men should oppose and deride them.

I would go on but space will not permit.

2. You assume non Christians don’t like us because of our attitudes.

I know a lot about non Christians since most of my life, the first 24 years, were spent as a non Christian. I was raised in a Christian home but never had a saving faith and had a god of my own choosing that I followed. I dabbled in Satanism and then just finally atheism. I hated the idea of a God that told me what to do. I didn’t really have a problem with most Christian attitudes. In fact I knew some very nice Christians. That didn’t make me like God anymore though. It was not until God humbled me enough to rid me of my pride that I became saved. Since then I have had a passion to reach the lost even though I’m not always the best when it comes to communication skills. I have yet to have an atheist say I don’t like your attitude. I have had atheist, Muslims and etc thank me for being sincere with them. I always try to be as open and honest as possible when witnessing. Most still end up rejecting God just as much as they did before despite my attitude. So there is a different reason for them rejecting the Biblical Jesus. Most which I believe boils down to selfish pride which I had for 24 years.

Dan Says:
“I have never heard someone say they don't like Christians because of our faith in Jesus and belief in the gospel. They do not agree with the gospel, but that is not usually why they don't "like us". It is normally that they are not experiencing the fruit of the SPirit from Christians such as love, joy, patience, peace, kindness....“

Matt Says:
This was not true for me and it isn’t true for most others. There are many Christian full of the fruit that are spat on or verbally attacked because they are open with the gospel message. Maybe Christians in your part of the country are different but here in Minnesota we have some very awesome Christians that have a passion for the lost. I envy their ability to go face to face with strangers. I have to always fight off nervousness.

Dan Says:
“Yes, many will reject the gospel. But you do have to look at what Jesus was saying with that "hate" passage and the context and compare that to what we hear today as reasons. Assuming that all non-Christians will hate us is a self-fulfilling prophecy which then even changes our attitudes and actions and how we interact, befriend (or not), pray for, dialogue with etc. those outside the faith.“

Matt Says:
Is it really self fulfilling? I don’t try to make anyone hate me or the message I bring but it still happens. There are some non Christians that don’t hate me but I can guarantee that they still hate the message that I bring. To understand why they still would hate me I go to the Bible and not the latest books out on Amazon. I have no doubt Dan that you really do want to reach the lost and remove any stumbling blocks that are out there. I do realize there are “Christians” that are hateful to non believers and scream hell without giving a message of hope. You don’t fight the “Christians” stuck in the right ditch though by taking a stance in the left ditch. I believe that is what is going on here.

Dan Says:
“OK - wanted to jump in here and explain what the title of the book is - since you were talking about it in a way that isn't actually in the book itself (as Amy pointed out).
Peace in Jesus -----
Dan”

Matt Says
It is true that I have not read this book in its entirety but I have skimmed over it and have read many reviews about it and discussed it with people that have read it. By the way I do own many books by other Emergent leaders and would love to discuss them but that shall wait for another time.

If it matters at all, I meant to say I agreed with Jeff C., not Alvin. MK

This all depends on one's definition of church.

If the writer means a brick and mortar building with lush carpet, stained glass windows, morbid organ music meant for funerals only, and some rube with a handkerchief wiping his brow every 5 minutes as he expostulates - well then I don't like that church either. There is zero Biblical basis for such a presentation.

On the other hand if the writer means a group of believers who are Berean in their approach to exegesis, full of grace for the saved and unsaved of the world, and aspiring to holy lives - yes I love that church.

Hi Jeff C, I wouldn't want to be construed as an authoritative voice, but I'll explain what I mean by "true church". A true church exibits certain aspects that make it so. Some of these aspects are non-negotiable, like preaching and professing of the word in conformity to God's revealed Truth, and a lawful administration and use of the two sacraments.

These two points alone are loaded with authority issues that in my opinion are the root of the discontent of those who are looking to find an alternative. I think that the first principle that leads to going "outside" is that of authority and headship. It implies that the Lord has left His church without care, and this is simply not the case. Americans seem to me to be by nature very independent, almost maverick like which leads to bucking against authority-- and there's no shortage of people willing to lead. But, unless one has the mark of a called teacher or preacher and is ordained and approved as such by a true church they are not conforming to the model and this has created many assemblies that are not "truly worshipping" God. There has always been a prescribed way that God required His people to respond to Him. Look at the OT, you would rarely have seen a maverick go out and start his own version of the sacrificial system, just check out the sons of Aaron and their strange fire to see how that kind of thing went. Why would we think that God would pleasure in a rejection of His prescribed manner of worship in our day?

For me it took the path of two or three years of drifting about, all the while feeling His displeasure that I was out from under the shadow if His wings. Having been in a PCA church for the last several years has taught me much about what being shepherded feels like and it's a far cry from the modern evangelical church atmosphere that I was involved with. One where there was no oversight of the pastor and what was taught, no fencing of the table for the Lord's supper, and reckless man centered "performances" masquerading as worship of God.

I could go on, but this hopefully will clarify what I mean by "true church".

Brad B

I just found this website last week and have been enjoying it very much.

I will start off by saying that I know almost nothing about the emerging church. I have been a born again Christian for over 30 years. I don't just "like" Jesus, I love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I am a completely devoted follower of Christ. I do not like this organization that we call "the church". In fact, in many ways I hate it. I hate how it destroys true Christianity in so many ways. What we call church is completely removed from what the scriptures describe.

I did not read all the comments, but I read a few and someone mentioned the un-churched "going solo". The irony is that most of the "churched" are going solo. They may attend a meeting or two a week with others, but for all practical purposes they are "going solo". The scriptures describe a body, a family, believers who share their very lives together on a daily basis, encouraging, rebuking, building up one another into the likeness of Christ. Attending meetings and services is a very poor replacement for daily body life. It is having the form of Godliness but denying the power.

I stopped attending church about 10 years ago. My family is trying hard not to "go it alone". However it is hard when most believers want little life together outside of programs and services.

[quote]This is one of the most incoherent aspects of modern Christianity. To think that one can have Jesus without His beloved body makes no sense.[/quote]

His Body is NOT an organization, His body is made up of true believers. This organization we call the church is filled to the brim with leaven...

Julie

and anyone who looks on his brother as a lost soul is himself heading straight for the fire of destruction.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a sensible man who builds his house on the rock.

You are so busy holding on to the traditions of men that you let go the commandment of God!

>>I have been told before by emergent supporters that there is a distinction. No one has defined that distinction though which doesn’t surprise me since the emergent crowd isn’t very fond of giving clear definitions.

Matt, you can read about the distinction here:

http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/4/4/
1859005.html

Hi Julie, I wanted to respond to you post for a couple of reasons but one in particular. That is related to you last statment about the Body of Christ not being an organization. Do you believe that Jesus has left His bride to have no visible representation? What do you make of Eph. 4? There are faithful churches all over that are not brimming with leaven as you put it. I wonder though, do you sense God's satisfaction even though not assembling together with the visible body to worship Him? Do you feel saftely in His care even without a credible pastor who according to Eph 4 is given for your growth by Jesus? How could the sacrament of the Lord's Supper be any benefit without a proper administration of it? And, what about the great commission? There is definately a visible Body of Christ, a faithful Body, and it is there that the *ordinary* means of grace are found.

Brad B

Hi Julie, I need to repent for the tone of what I wrote above, I didn't mean for it to come across as it did, as though you are on trial. I'm sorry. In my zeal to defend the visible church I didn't show the care for you as I would have intended.

I truely meant for my questions to encourage you to question what you think so that you may go and find a church that exhibits a high regard for the public worship of God and come under the care and headship that Jesus intends His visible body to give His sheep.
Brad B

"Matt, you can read about the distinction here:

http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2006/4/4/
1859005.html"

Thanks for the link Amy. I'll make a close read of it later as soon as time permits and get back with you if I still need some clarification.

Hey Brad,

First of all, I didn’t detect any "tone" coming from your message, so I certainly wasn’t offended, but I am happy that you repented! We are supposed to have a zeal for His house, so that is a good thing! As you can probably tell, I have a zeal too! I would also encourage you to question what you think! Have an open mind, you could be the one that is wrong! I will have an open mind too!

Yes, I do believe we are supposed to be a visible representation of Christ!!!! Absolutely, that is a passion of mine to be sure!! How is everyone supposed to identify us? *By the love we have for one another and for others!!!* How we interact and care for one another together daily and from house to house and in our communities!!!! We are falling so short of the mark when we think that the world should identify us by seeing us head into the church building for a worship service on Sunday. What a sad replacement for daily body life, sharing our lives together and feeling like we are in the pains of childbirth until we see Christ complete in our brothers and sisters!!! A visible love that others can see…a love so real that no one can deny it has a supernatural source…that is our goal!!!!!!

Yes, there are faithful churches to be sure, but they are the minority. Do not forget, a little leaven works through the whole batch!!

A good overview of the NT shows that the term pastor is used interchangeably with elder and overseer. I find it telling that you would think that because I do not attend an institutional church that I have no shepherds in my life! Do you think that shepherds in the body of Christ work only through organized programs and ministries? Do you think it is impossible for believers to relate to one another as a family with 100 mothers, brothers, sisters, building one another up in the faith and spurring each other on toward love and good deeds, outside of programs, services, meetings, paid staff, etc.?

Where does the scripture talk about “proper administration of the Lord’s supper”? I do not find that in the NT at all. Paul says “When you come together to eat, wait for one another.” No mention of a pastor or elder needing to feed everyone. Actually the idea that we need someone to “properly administer” the Lord’s supper is an insult and totally in opposition to the teachings of the NT.

The great commission is preaching the gospel and making disciples…not bringing people to services and meetings. Do not let your mind be led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ!!!

Julie

Hi Julie, I think a few more questions would help me see where to go with you. I think I've been there, where you are, the arguements are very familiar, but I believe wanting.

1. You say you have shepherds, who are they accountable to, and how do they discipline and inspect to keep the flock safe? How do you even know who is in the flock without membership?

2. If you come away from reading Eph. 4 without the sense that there is, by the work of the Spirit, an organization that is to give life to the body, what then do you think is it's point? Especially comment on 4:12-14.

3. How do you personally safeguard against heresy? Does what the historical doctrinal position of the creeds and confessions have any use to you in that regard? Did you know that they were formulated by the visible church for the benefit of discernemnt?

4. Do you realize that you are, in fact as a believer, in Christ because of the visible work of the body--even the one that is filled to the brim with leaven?

5. Since we worship the same Yahweh who gave specific rules of worship with grave consequences for disobedience to Israel, do you think He's any less pleased that modern men think they can come to Him and not regard Him as holy?

I dont really disagree at all with what you say about community and being 24/7 faithful. Loving God and our neighbors as ourselves is a full time gig and anyone who's content otherwise is deceived. But, the term "in Christ" has meaning that to me includes submitting to His called teachers and preachers who have demonstrated conformity to the wisdom of the historic church. This is of course in regards to the essentials of the faith. "In Christ" means coming together corporately as a body to give worship nor forsaking the assembling together.

Brad B

Yes, I realize that I am a “product” so to speak of the institutional church, and even the Catholic church if we want to go back far enough. Just as God worked through Saul for good even though he wanted Samuel for his people, he will and has worked through the institutional church in the past and still today. But I do not believe for one second that it His will for His people. We wanted a “king” like the other nations and God gave us what we wanted, but it was not what he wanted for us.

Doesn’t it make you sad to think that a shepherd wouldn’t know a member of his flock without having their name on a registry of some sort??? Do you not see how horrific that is in a family??? Why is that? Why the need for formality? The answer is painfully obvious…there is no family, no real relationship because it has been replaced by formality. When there is a familial relationship there is no need for membership. A shepherd looks after his sheep because he loves and cares for them. Period.

How do *I* personally safeguard against heresy? If I hear someone say something that is wrong I simply say: “Hey, that doesn’t seem right, let’s see how it lines up against scripture.” Then I show them from scripture and if they don’t see it we go to someone else, usually an elder or a teacher and ask them. We hash it out together and come to an understanding of the truth together as a church. That is how it is done.

I definitely regard God as holy! Absolutely! Why would you think otherwise, because we disagree on the nature and function of the church? That seems presumptuous. I take the scriptures seriously and hold them in the highest regard. This is why I would rather conform to scripture even if it means going against the “wisdom of the historic church”.

The NT teaches that we are to do everything as an act of worship to the Lord. We are to offer our bodies as a LIVING SACRIFICE!!!!!! We gather together with other believers for the purpose of mutual edification, to encourage and teach *one another* and to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Eph 4:12-14 bolsters my view in my opinion. We need to work together so that the body of Christ will be built up! This is what we are to do every single day! Encourage one another daily so that we will not be hardened by sin, spur one another on toward love and good deeds, see to it that non of you have a sinful, unbelieving heart, when you come together each one of you bring something to share, you can *all* prophesy in turn so that you will *all* be taught and encouraged, teach one another, rebuke one another, build one another up.

Each one of us does our part building the church up toward unity and love expressing the *full power* of Christ and we will no longer be infants!!!!!! The organized church has not done this. Where is the unity? Where is the love that is so powerful that the world has a visible representation of Jesus? The church is full of infants! So called believers who sit in pews for *decades* and still have nothing to offer the body, still sucking on milk week after week.

You say you don’t *really* disagree with what I say about community. Why the need to qualify with *really*? To me it sounds like something you give lip service to but do not live it out. (Is it my turn to be presumptuous?) You don’t *really* disagree with it, but in part you do somehow? Forgive me if I am reading too much into your *really*.

I am thankful for teachers and preachers who have been able to see past the so called “wisdom of the historic church” and instead have looked to scripture for understanding. I thank the Lord for them daily.

Julie

Hi Julie, I have to say that in my opinion we are getting no where because there is just too much being said to make even 1 point well. If you wouldn't mind, I would like to just reduce our conversation to your answer to my question #1 from above. From there, it'd be easy to stray far and wide again, but I hope that doesn't happen.

I said:
<<1. You say you have shepherds, who are they accountable to, and how do they discipline and inspect to keep the flock safe? How do you even know who is in the flock without membership?<<

you answered:
<<"Doesn’t it make you sad to think that a shepherd wouldn’t know a member of his flock without having their name on a registry of some sort??? Do you not see how horrific that is in a family??? Why is that? Why the need for formality? The answer is painfully obvious…there is no family, no real relationship because it has been replaced by formality. When there is a familial relationship there is no need for membership. A shepherd looks after his sheep because he loves and cares for them. Period."<<

Now, if I may ask again along the same line of reasoning. Who are your shepherds accountable to, [or do you believe that they are infallible]? By what standard to they safeguard the family of believers who are by some kind of inference under their headship? Secondly, why would you think membership is only for the purpose of the shepherd to know them? Could it be that it is a formal way of standing with Christ? Not denying Him is important, and membership is a part of that. It also gives accountability opportunities that are formal and definate not squishy and slippery. I guess, I'd like to have you consider the depravity of men, because it seems from what you write, we are ok to self govern, or am I wrong?

I'll end this for now to hopefully take the conversation to a deeper level.

Brad B

Just a quick answer…tonight (which is probably good, no time to get sidetracked!)

Elders are accountable to God just as we all are. In addition they are accountable to other elders and to all the believers. We are all to hold one another accountable. Not Lording over anyone of course, but out of love for one another. Of course elders are not infallible! They are simply those in the church who have proven themselves to be of Godly character and wisdom and willing to serve and care for others. This is how the scriptures describe elders/overseers/pastors/shepherds.

[quote] By what standard to they safeguard the family of believers who are by some kind of inference under their headship?[/quote]

Maybe I don’t understand your question as the answer seems so obvious as to silly. The standard is the Bible of course. Do I not understand your question?

[quote] Secondly, why would you think membership is only for the purpose of the shepherd to know them?[/quote]

I don’t think that…I was just answering the previous question in the context which you asked. No, I don’t believe that membership in an organization has anything to do with a believer’s standing with Christ. After all, many who are members of a church organization are not even born again. One has nothing to do with the other. The Lord knows our hearts. He doesn’t need us to join an organization to prove our devotion to him. Non-membership in a church has nothing at all to do with denying Christ! That is a ridiculous assertion! It seems like it is almost akin to swearing to me. (I swear I’m a Christian, see I am a member of Springfield Covenant Presbyterian Church!) Let your yes be yes! It is your fruit that shows whether or not you are born again.

In my opinion, joining a church is actually divisive. It is saying…”Hey, I’m with this group of Christians here…this is my church and that is yours.” This is divisive! All true born again believers make up the church. All true born again believers in a particular locale make up the “local church” in that locale. All believers in Ephesus make up the Ephesian church and all true believers in Springfield make up the Springfield church. We are to be built up in unity…one body!

It says a lot about the body of Christ when we need an organization to keep us accountable…and it isn’t saying anything good!!! Besides, the idea that church organizations keep us accountable just isn’t true! People are only going to be as accountable as they want to be. It is they Holy Spirit working in us to change us that causes us to want good, not an organization.

[quote] because it seems from what you write, we are ok to self govern, or am I wrong?[/quote]

You are not reading my comments with an honest heart if you see that. Do you not see all the times I have written “one another” and “each other” (taken straight from scripture of course!) how in the world does this communicate “self” to you? Real relationships rooted in Christ with other believers striving to see Christ complete in one another…does that say “self-govern” to you? In what way?

Julie

Hi Julie, let's focus on this recent q and a.:

<<[quote] By what standard to they safeguard the family of believers who are by some kind of inference under their headship?[/quote]

Maybe I don’t understand your question as the answer seems so obvious as to silly. The standard is the Bible of course. Do I not understand your question?<<

So, do you have certainty that your elders/shepherds/pastors are inerrant in their interpretation and doctrine? Can you trust yourself to discern whether they are correct by your skill with the Bible?

Please understand that I'm not trying to just entertain you or engage in some kinda contest, but I dont think you realize what you are dismissing when you so blatantly disreguard "the pillar and support of the truth".

Brad

Hi Brad B. Thank you for your response. I appreciate the things you said. I guess what brought up my original question was the use of "A true Church". Isn't it "THE true church" I know that sounds like mincing on words, but one word can and often does change the meaning of what someone is saying. An example might be I took that. She took that. He took that. One word makes a differance in who pays for it. I have always been taught that the Church is the body of believers Ecclesia the called out ones who hear the Masters voice and have responded. The authority is not the church but the Bible. I heard a pastor say once that "It isn't beautiful unless it is Biblical." I liked that.The Mormons where I live say that Authority is possessed by the LDS Church and dispenced only by them through the Aaronic and Melchisedec priesthood. Never mind that the Aaronic Priesthood was done away with and only Jesus holds the Melchisedec. Hebrews ch 7. Authority according to John is given to all who receive Jesus. John 1:12 There are many forms of church government and many ways for us to express our love for God but only one true church comprised of true believers in the Biblical Jesus Christ. Many of us may be found in the pews on Sunday and many not. It upsets me that LifeWay has is seems pointed the finger at the unchurched while they lose so many "Churched" people to non-Christian groups like the Mormons who largely feed on unprepared Christian "Churched" people and quite successfully I might add. Maybe they ought to get the plank out of their own eye before trying to pull the spec out of the eye of the unchurched. I am thankful for people and groups like Stand to Reason who are about the business of preparing us to give answers and stand unashamed and firm in our faith. We have good reason to do so.

Anybody who thinks they are inerrant in their understanding of the Bible is extremely arrogant. Nobody has a complete understanding yet…now we see through a glass darkly. I would be very wary of someone who claimed to understand everything in scripture. I know for a fact that some of the elders that I look up to are wrong on some things. Some of them have differing interpretations than others, so some have to be wrong on some things.

I have a considerable amount of Bible “skill”, so yes, I can trust myself to be able to discern whether or someone is teaching something false. We are supposed to study and show ourselves approved, not just sit in pews and take someone else’s teaching as absolute truth.

Don’t worry about me, I am not afraid of being engaged in a “contest”/debate. I know what I believe and I know it is firmly grounded in scripture.

If you think that an organization that is comprised of a mixture of believers and unbelievers make up “the pillar and support of the truth” you are misled. Not everyone who is a member of a church or even a pastor/elder/overseer/bishop/deacon/Sunday school teacher, etc is a true believer. So how can an organization that includes people who are not born again (some even as its leaders) be “the pillar and support of the truth”? Can you defend that idea at all? The pillar and support of the truth is the true church…ie: born again believers, those who have been made a new person in Christ. They make up the household of God.

Julie

There are several more general points here that I find most interesting.

The bigger picture is something I've struggled with for years, without a solution or useful explanations:

http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/category/big-brains-simple-saints/

Hi Sam, I just spent a good bit of time reading the three part series of the reference you gave. I hoped to find something good that would speak of the value of the visible church and how even as troubled as it is, it's still God's prescribed ordinary means of grace, and pillar and support of the truth.

I have to say that through the three parts, I got the feeling that the author [another Sam I suspect] was missing a greater lesson than the one he was trying to expound on. That is that primarily, apologetics are not evangelical in nature, preaching is. But I got the sense he was missing that distinction. Good solid defense of the faith isn't going to convince a unregenerated heart in the least and all the author had to say about how we are complicating things that get in the way of simple faith was really missing the mark. I wonder if that is what your comment of struggle is about also?

p.s. But I ought to add that a good apologetic and apologetic method sure will convince a born again one to act like a believer. Renewing the mind and all Rom. 12
Brad B

Hi Julie, what do you make of 1 Tim. 3? This is where the phrase pillar and support of the truth is located. If you dont think that this is in a context of an orgainized structured body, I'll have to question your considerable bible skill. I already suspect a problem because of the treatment of Eph 4 that you gave. Pleae keep in mind that I thought a much the same way at one time but I believe it's in error. But because of that, it is with trepidation that I speak frankly toward you, but at my defense, I have the historic church position on my side, not only my own personal interpretation.

Brad B

Well, Brad, I think I have definitive proof that the Lord is on my side. The electricity just went out for a couple seconds, knocking out my computer. Just seconds before it went out I had clicked the “save” button and saved my whole post. Obviously God wanted my words preserved! (Surely that must count for something! LOL)

Anyway...

No need for trepidation, feel free to speak frankly. No need to tell me where the phrase is, in fact I made sure to read the passage again before my last response to you. We could go round and round accusing each other of their lack of Bible skill, it does no good as far as I can see. You question my skill because you think I am wrong and of course I could feel the same way, perhaps your skill must be lacking if you can not see the simple truth as I see it. That is how it often works! I do find that unfortunately many Christians “study” the Bible by looking for passages that support what they already believe and practice. I have found that the best way to understand the Bible is to simply read it as it was intended to be read. For example, read Paul’s letters in a single sitting…getting the whole context. Read the NT over and over so that you haven’t forgotten what 1 Corinthians said by the time by the time you get to Colossians. You can see everything in context that way instead of taking little snippets from here and there to support one’s views.

It seems to me the logic of using the “historic church position” to bolster your argument is flawed. After all, the Catholic church has a longer historic church position than the protestant, but I assume you reject many of their teachings. (Of course I am assuming you are not catholic…could be wrong!) Having a long history of something doesn’t make it correct! I prefer to look with a clean slate at what the writers of the NT were saying and not read it through the lens of our traditions.

It seems this “debate” is rather one sided, I am answering all your questions and challenges, but you seem to skip over most of my responses in favor of your next question. For example, could you explain to me how an organization comprised of a mixture of saints and non-believers could be considered the pillar and foundation of the truth? I would really like to know how this can be. How is it that the unregenerate can be a part of the pillar and foundation of truth?

The historic church is clearly wrong on some things. An example is the elevation of the “office” of pastor. Not all denominations do this of course, but most do. It seems quite clear that the NT writers used the terms elder/overseer/pastor interchangeably, so why does the historic church turn the position of pastor into something that is absent from scripture.

What about our modern day “worship services”? Glaringly absent from the pages of the NT!!! The NT clearly says we are to gather together to encourage and teach *one another*! We come together for mutual edification and to spur *one another* on toward love and good deeds. Read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians when he gives them instructions for how to get their meetings in order. No mention of a pastor or sermon. Instead he says “each one of you bring something, take turns, and you can *all* prophecy in turn so that *all* may be taught and encouraged.

Oh, and what’s my take on 1 Timothy 3? Paul is giving Timothy a list of qualities that an elder and deacon would have. That is the plain reading of the text.

If you think that a/the “organized church” is the pillar and foundation of the truth, then which church is it that has all this “truth”? You can find a lot of different ideas being taught as the truth in Protestantism. Are you Catholic? If so it probably would have been honest to state that from the beginning!

Julie

Brad,

I appreciate your comments more than you know.

:o)

Julie

Please excuse me intruding but I think I can see where you're coming from...

One thing I've noticed after reading the NT for many years is the state of the early Church — not exactly stellar. Seems to me there were all sorts of church members mixing it up and probably undermining its effectiveness. Yet together they all constituted the living expression of Christ Himself.

The early Church had all sorts of problems that needed sorted out, but haven't been. These ill-fitting flaws seem to be part and parcel of the reality that is the Church, the Body of Christ globally and locally.

So I can also appreciate Brad's views when he says, "...troubled as [the Church] is, it's still God's prescribed ordinary means of grace, and pillar and support of the truth."

A bit of an unresolvable puzzle perhaps?...

>>Good solid defense of the faith isn't going to convince a unregenerated heart in the least

Neither will preaching.

It's the Holy Spirit who convinces hearts, not preaching or apologetics. So, in that sense, preaching and apologetics start out on a level playing field--neither has the power in itself to change hearts.

Now, we know that God calls us to communicate the truth about Jesus to others because the Holy Spirit works through this communication. So, if one is communicating the truth about the gospel, presenting it as truth about reality through the use of apologetics, what is the difference between this and preaching? What happens only in preaching that the Holy Spirit requires to happen before He will move?

Hi Amy, what is you take on Rom 1:16 then.

Brad B

P.S. Amy, to me preaching is proclaiming the Gospel...What God did.

Hi Julie, I haven't responded to much of what you asked so far because I was trying to get a firm grip on what you are advocating. To answer your question on how a church that has unregenerated attenders and maybe even an unregenerate pastor be the pillar and support of the truth, I will only say that God does and has used the wicked to prophesy and to perform His will, but this is not the norm in His church. Like I said, earlier in Eph. 4 which contains this tidbit: [Eph 4:11 And He gave some {as} apostles, and some {as} prophets, and some {as} evangelists, and some {as} pastors and teachers,
Eph 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ]--you seem to deny. I see your denial of it in the rejection of the historic church as though God gave flawed gifts to the historic saints. Your rejection of the historic church for a supposedly purer version is a rejection of God's long established visible, corporate worship.

I think that you miss the point of what I'm saying when you distinguish between the true church of saints that we are not supposed to be quaified to identify, [yet you seem to], because God said so. When the nation of Israel got Saul as king, David respected the person God made king--he respected the institution and the man because he was God's annointed. David's humbleness and respect was an example of how a saint is to treat one of God's annointed.

Let me ask on final thing here, do you believe that there ever was a church organization that was established that could call itself the Church of God? This would be a church that was structured and public.

Brad B

P.S. no I'm not a Roman Catholic, just Reformed.

Hi again Amy, I wanted to try to answer your question of what is the difference between preaching and apologetics. What I answered earlier applies and also, I wanted to state what I think is the place apologetics has in the process of evangelism. I hope I didn't come across as saying that apologetics have nothing to do with evangelism because I dont think that there isn't a place for a defense of the faith in evangelism, it is that it cannot be the context of an evangelistic endeavor.

Here's what I mean. Proclaiming the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. I ought to ask, do you have an appreciation for the "law gospel distinction"? It is a Reformed doctrine that I've found to be of great value. Anyway, where I think a defense of the faith comes in is only after a person is called, but doesn't even know it yet in his head. He's born again but doesn't know it yet. It seems to be that apologetics was the mover in the evangelism, when in fact the person had the Spirit of God but didn't confess until his mind was convinced of some difficulty with reality.

I hope this clarifies what I mean.

Brad

>>Hi Amy, what is you take on Rom 1:16 then

My take is that Christ saved us from our sins by dying on the cross, and those who believe this will be saved. We should not be ashamed to tell people this, but should reveal to them the truth that we receive God's righteousness through faith because of Christ's work on the cross. People can only be saved if they hear this message.

Now, read on because I really think I can change your mind on this distinction between preaching and apologetics that you're making. :)

>>Anyway, where I think a defense of the faith comes in is only after a person is called, but doesn't even know it yet in his head. He's born again but doesn't know it yet.

I don't believe such a time exists. Can you give scriptural evidence that a person can be born again without believing in Jesus? When the Holy Spirit opens up a person's ears to hear the gospel and believe it, that is when he is born again. There's a time when a person is elect but not saved--a time when he is hostile to the things of God (including both preaching and apologetics), but there is no time when he is saved but doesn't know it.

The fact is that preaching comes before a person is born again--while he is elect, but not saved. The Holy Spirit moves when the person hears the gospel, and the person believes. It would be silly to say that because unbelievers are hostile to the things of God, therefore no one should preach to a person who isn't already a believer. This is precisely the means God uses to make someone a believer. So we know that saying words that describe the truth about Jesus to people who are not believers is exactly what we're supposed to do. This is why I think you're making a false distinction between preaching and apologetics. In both cases, the words about Jesus come to a person before he has been saved, and the Holy Spirit works through those words.

Now, imagine a person preaching the gospel to his friend. On the first day, he tells about God and creation, then they come back on the next day to talk about the prophecies of the Old Testament, then they meet the next week to talk about Jesus' life and identity. Then, finally, weeks after beginning, he tells his friend the final piece of the puzzle and explains about the cross in the context of the whole truth of the Bible, and his friend believes and becomes a Christian. Was this man wrong to preach this way? Even though it doesn't save his friend to believe that God created the world, is it part of the gospel message to tell him so? Should the man only have said as quickly as possible, "Jesus died on the cross for your sins," said "Ta-daaa!!!!" and then walked away? Would you think it was useless for the man to give his friend all that information, building his explanation of the gospel over a period of time? Does it honor Christ if his friend doesn't understand the message? If Christ isn't honored, will the Holy Spirit move? I think even you would agree that preaching the way the man did helped his friend to make sense of and fully understand the gospel message. The Holy Spirit then worked through the message at the proper time.

So if all this is true of "preaching," why should it not be true of apologetics? (I put "preaching" in quotes because I still see no difference between preaching and apologetics--at least, in any sense relevant to this discussion. Both give the truth of the gospel.) Every one of the subjects I mentioned above about God and Christ could be discussed using apologetics. Part of the gospel message is the idea that this message is actually true. Explaining the truth of the different elements of the gospel story (even if it comes over a period of time as pieces of the puzzle are examined one by one) through apologetics is no different from preaching.

Just as you can make your case through preaching over a period of days, building on the information you're giving, so you can make your case for the gospel through apologetics over a period of time. In both cases you're proclaiming the truth of Christ dying for our sins. In both cases you can speak to those who are not yet believers. In both cases, the Holy Spirit will move at the proper time to the glory of Christ and His message, and the person will submit to Christ.

I simply see no real distinction between preaching and apologetics that would warrant saying the Holy Spirit uses one to bring people to Christ and not the other.

Hi Amy, I appreciate the time you spent and hopefully will spend discussing this topic. I am not convinced to drop the distinction by what you wrote in this first response. You said a lot and I'll respond to some right now and see what some fine tuning of the discussion can bring forth.

Let me ask you first, why is there a distinct category called "apologetics" if it is also to be interchanged with "preaching". Along the same line, are you familiar with the law / gospel distinction? I ask because it'd help me if I know if you were familiar with that doctrine or not.

Now, I dont deny that relationships that involve discussing the truth claims of the Bible arent fruitful. The truths though, will always be rejected by the unregenerated man because he is DEAD spiritually!!! 1 Cor. 2:14 "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." In your example, the man is only "preaching" when the good news is proclaimed. That is Jesus' death on the cross for his sins. It'd be helpful if the man was made to feel his guilt that Rom. 1 says all men know before hand, but the fact is preaching is not defending the truth claims of the Bible, it is the foolish way God chose as the means to bring salvation to men.

I would prefer to stop here although I'm wound up with a lot to say, because I want to respect your time and stay focused on the terms preaching and apologetics for now.

Thanks, Brad B

p.s. I'll give you a defense of the idea that a person can have the spirit of God and not know it in his mind yet next time.

Hi again Amy, I am back to see if I can defend the premise made earlier. I know that I'll not be able to go to a single scripture that says "the spirit of God comes before one believes", but this is also true of many important doctrines. I would like to state ahead of time that I do not argue that a person remains ignorant of their born again status for any length of time. In fact once a person has been born again they will by necessity of nature begin to question every reason they had previously used to reject God and even be interested in a "defense of the faith". ;)

We know that there is none righteous no not one, and the doctrine of original sin claims that all humans are born under sin by virture of their nature inhereted from the first federal head, Adam. This is a nature that is hostile to God, at enmity with Him and a lover of the world and it's ways. Let me use Eph 2:4,5 here. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved". So, before being born again, all men are dead to God. Is a dead man able to respond to the gospel without having been made alive first? No! So, a decision to follow the command to "repent and believe" can only be obeyed by one who's been made alive first. Since he cannot make himself alive to consider the arguement and *then* believe, I argue that regeneration preceeds faith.

Actually I dont want to go any further than that for now.

Brad

>>Let me ask you first, why is there a distinct category called "apologetics" if it is also to be interchanged with "preaching".

Brad, thanks for the response. As I said, I don't think there's any difference between apologetics and preaching *that's relevant to what we're discussing*; that is, I think you encounter the same problems preaching to an unsaved person that you encounter when you talk to them about apologetics--your objections all apply equally to preaching and apologetics. The dead person can respond to neither. When a person gives the gospel through preaching, the Holy Spirit may move and open his eyes to the truth. When a person gives the gospel through apologetics, the Holy Spirit may move and open his eyes to the truth. Why? Because ultimately, apologetics is all about explaining the gospel, although detailed in a specific way (focusing on the truth of each aspect of the gospel).

Let me try to focus this a little bit: You said the gospel is "Jesus' death on the cross for his sins." Who is Jesus? The real person Jesus? Or do you mean a Christ consciousness? Did Jesus die on the cross, or are you giving a metaphor? What do you mean by "dying on the cross for my sins"? Are you saying I'm a sinner? Are you saying that God punishes? Are you telling me a nice story, or are you claiming this really happened and reflects reality?

My point is that answering these questions about the gospel can be a valuable way of proclaiming the gospel because they explain the message clearly. If you tell someone Christ died for his sins, but he hears, "This story makes him happy and is about helping people overcome the suffering in their lives," he has not heard the gospel. If you never communicated to him the idea that you're talking about reality, you have not communicated the message.

Please note here that I'm not saying that apologetics are *necessary.* You could say that the gospel is true without defending it. However, a key part of the gospel message *is* the idea that the gospel is actually true and reflects reality. Therefore, if you decide to be more specific about the part of the message that claims this is true, how is this not still giving the gospel, such that the Holy Spirit would back away from it? If I'm telling a person that Christ really lived, died, and rose again to pay for our sins, which part of this is not the gospel?

If a person should never expand on different aspects of the gospel, depending on the specific concerns of the person to whom he's speaking, what, in your opinion, are the only acceptable words a person ought to say when speaking to an unbeliever? How much of the truth about Christ can he give before he moves into an area that's useless for the hearers? I truly think that the Holy Spirit moves through different people who give the gospel in different ways for His own glory, and often in a way that's specific to the person who is being spoken to. People simply do not always hear the gospel proclaimed in exactly the same way.

>>So, before being born again, all men are dead to God. Is a dead man able to respond to the gospel without having been made alive first? No!

I don't disagree with that. But the point is, they are dead whether they are hearing preaching or apologetics (both of which explain the truth about Christ), so why would one be valuable and the other not?

>>Since he cannot make himself alive to consider the arguement and *then* believe, I argue that regeneration preceeds faith.

Here's the problem: neither can he make himself alive to consider the preaching and then believe. Preaching and apologetics are in the same boat, here. Just as a person can comprehend the words of the preacher through which the Holy Spirit will awaken him and he will believe, so a person can comprehend the words of apologetics through which the Holy Spirit will awaken him and he will believe.

But again, I have to say that the Holy Spirit only moves when the gospel is proclaimed (and the hearing can happen over time through either preaching or apologetics) because this is what honors Christ. The belief comes with the change (i.e., though there's a logical order, for our purposes the result is instantaneous)--there isn't a period of time where a person wanders around saved but doesn't believe in Christ. We know this because, according to the Bible, those who believe in Christ have eternal life, no one else.

Hey Brad,

Interesting, you used pretty much the same argument that I used in one of my posts up there. (Jan. 29@ 4:19). You said God uses the wicked…I said that God uses and has used the “historic church” even though it is not His will for his people.

Sure God can and does use the wicked to accomplish His will, no doubt about that. That however does not mean that organized historic church is the ekklesia. The church is God’s people, those how have turned toward him and accepted Christ as their savior. The church is Christ’s body…someone who is not a believer is not part of Christ’s body. Christ’s body is made up only those who are born again. Therefore it is impossible for an organization that is made up of a mixture of believers and unbelievers to be Christ’s body. Christ’s body can not also be divided. The organized church is divided and becoming more so every day. Denominationalism divides. This is not the will of God. It is he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be shepherds and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach *unity* in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on *Christ*.

The organized church has not brought unity, it has not brought maturity. The church is not visible by its love. In general unbelievers look at Christians and see hypocrisy, not love. By no definition does the organized church fit the scriptures description. The practices of the organized church are not found in scripture. In fact they completely contradict the teachings of Christ and scripture.

I would like to encourage you to read through the NT straight a few times and try to set aside your traditions and just read it without any preconceived notions. It is my experience that most Christians read the Bible in snippets looking for proof-texts to back up what they believe. I am sure you know it wasn’t meant to be read that way. Read it in context and see the whole story of the NT church.

[quote] ]--you seem to deny. I see your denial of it in the rejection of the historic church as though God gave flawed gifts to the historic saints.[/quote]

I don’t think God gave flawed gifts, I think the men were flawed not the gifts! I do not think God established the organized church, I think that men established it. Why would God establish a church that contradicts the teachings of scripture? He wouldn’t.

I don’t know why you think we are not qualified to identify true Christians. Again, maybe I am misunderstanding you. We are supposed to identify them, know them by their fruit, by the love they have for one another. We are commanded to remove the leaven from the batch. God is the final judge because only he can see man’s heart, but we are supposed to judge the fruit and put those who persist in sin out.

[quote] Let me ask on final thing here, do you believe that there ever was a church organization that was established that could call itself the Church of God? This would be a church that was structured and public.[/quote]

One organization being THE church? No, not the way you describe it. Every born again Christian is a part of the church. All the born again believers in a particular locale make up the church of that locale. For example, all the believers in Jerusalem make up the church of Jerusalem, all the believers in Ephesus make up the church of Ephesus. However, the church in Jerusalem isn’t THE church it is only a PART of THE church, because the church doesn’t exist only in Jerusalem or Ephesus or Springfield or Fargo, etc. Does that make sense?
The church is a family, it needs no more structure than that. A hundred brothers, sisters, mothers. Elders are among the brothers and sisters, not over them. Jesus expressly FORBID hierarchal structure in the church!!! He said it is NOT TO BE SO with us! The scriptures teach that we are to come together for *mutual edification* and that each one is to bring something to share with the body. Each of you can prophesy so that all can be encouraged and taught. When the first man is speaking and the second has a revelation let the first one *sit down*! Do you obey these commands in your meetings?
Why are you so sure that the 4/5 part ministry is exclusive rather than inclusive? Is that a clear reading from scripture?

Julie

>>Jesus expressly FORBID hierarchal structure in the church!!! He said it is NOT TO BE SO with us!

Julie, just to clarify, Christ did not forbid hierarchy. Luke 22:25--"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant."

The distinction doesn't seem to be between leaders and no leaders; the distinction is between leaders who lord it over others and leaders who serve others. To see this is the case, take a look at the end of the parallel passage in Matthew 20:28. Jesus says leaders must act as He did, saying, "Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." We know Jesus wasn't saying He was no longer our leader. Jesus IS our leader! Therefore, the point of His instructions was to show leaders how they should act, not to get rid of leaders.

We also know Jesus didn't forbid hierarchy because there are many portions of the New Testament that give instructions for putting a hierarchy in place (i.e., choosing elders and deacons). If we consider those instructions to be inspired by God, then God was giving guidelines for creating a hierarchy.

Amy,

I respectfully disagree. I know this is a common misunderstanding of the text, but I do not think that it is an honest understanding of either the text or the context of the NT. (Please excuse the caps, they are only for emphasis.) Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, AND THEIR HIGH OFFICIALS EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THEM. NOT SO WITH YOU. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Luke 22:25-27 Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; AND THOSE WHO EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THEM CALL THEMSELVES BENEFACTORS. BUT YOU ARE NOT TO BE LIKE THAT. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

It is clear that the issue was not just lording it over, but also “high officials” who exercise authority. Jesus says it is not to be that way in the church!!! Rulers who lord it over…don’t do it. Officials who exercise authority…don’t do it. We are not to be like that in the church, that is the WORLDLY WAY!!!! The church is not to function like the world does. Those who are leaders do not exercise authority, instead they SERVE!

I am not saying that there is no leadership in the church…you misunderstand me. I am saying that church leadership is not hierarchal (ie: high officials exercising authority). Leadership in the church comes from proof of character and servant hood. You don’t have authority because you are a leader, you are a leader because you have natural authority that comes from proven wisdom and godliness. There is a huge difference.

Julie

Hi Julie, I only want to respond to one thing regarding a comment in your most recent post, but also it's a common thread in all you've been communicating. That is, that you have a misunderstanding of what a true church environment is all about. Have you never been served in an organized church? Or is the only experience you've had been one that had "high officials" "lording it over you". If so, I feel sorry for you, really.

Called teachers and preachers are surely not doing it for money or glory on earth, and I dont know of a better example of the correct interpretation of the scripture you misuse in response to Amy.

Brad B

Hi Julie, I'd like to make another challenge to you quickly, in your reference of Eph. 4 where you show your bible skill, I'd like to ask you what is verse 13 saying about "unity"? It is another example of your misuse of the scriptures to make a point because you have not compentent teacher to help you, or you are too sure of your own skill.

Brad B

P.S. Hing: it is a unity of the "faith" and "true knowledge" of Christ. I think you suffer the latter.

Hi Amy, if preaching is the *power* of God unto salvation, it is the power to make alive. In John 8:29-30, you see an example of the power of preaching, it wasn't mixed with a defense of the faith. They believed because God gave them "eyes to see and ears to hear". Jesus said at another place concerning miracles that you'll[the desciples] do greater works than these, speaking of spreading the gospel message and people being born again. "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good tidings of good things". Rom. 10 speaks about this, and I'd ask you to read the latter half of Rom 10 and comment on what it says in vs.20. It reminds me of the apostle Pauls conversion, he was not seeking Jesus, he knew the arguements and rejected them while unregenerated.

Brad B

Hi Amy, it seems like I'm a proponent of the presuppositional apologetic method, because I presuppose what Rom. 1 says, that all men know God but suppress the truth in unrighteousness and that which is know about him is *evident within them* for "God made it evident to them". The reason I think this is because I also think that the foolishness of preaching doesn't leave room for suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. There is not a discussion of why the truth is true, only a simple message like Paul used when he said in 1 Cor.: "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

By the way I dont have any animosity toward evidential apologetics at all. But I do think that preaching the gospel is simply telling the good news of what the Father did through the obedience of Jesus. There is no opening for discussion while preaching, it is the proclamation of the good news. It's not for everyone, but for those who are appointed for salvation, and it is the power unto that end.

Brad B

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