Thursday, August 26, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 9

The church is in a woeful state of morass and suffers from myopia; we have let go of the faith that is in Christ that brings life, power and godliness; we have reached out for the ring of worldly conformity in some futile bid to bring the unsaved into a building so that pews might be filled. We cannot hold both, Matthew 6:24; James 4:4. The church is not for the unsaved, like the Bible is not for the unsaved.

Do not mistake me; the unsaved may read the Bible and go to a church, but until they are converted and believe the gospel, and the life of Jesus Christ comes into them and abides in them through God the Holy Spirit, there is no benefit to either. The Bible has the singular message of “Believe on Jesus Christ” for the unsaved; the church was established for the saints to gather so we might worship, fellowship, and learn. We are to take what we have learned, grow in grace and step out of the church to preach and reach out to the outside world by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are fishers of men; our goal is not to bring people into a church so they can fill a pew: our goal is to lead people to Jesus Christ so they can receive the free gift of eternal life and abide with Him forever! Sound biblical preaching from within the church can indeed convict the ungodly should they enter (1st Corinthians 14:24-25); but we are to be fishers of men, catching men of all kinds, Matthew 13:47-48.

Is this the present goal of today’s church, regardless of denomination? The original Apostles of the church were so vigorous about evangelizing the lost that they appointed deacons to tend to smaller matters while they preached, Acts 6:2-4. Denominations are the devil’s playground too many times. It is a switch-bait; we become involved with our church and its creeds and policies, while we lose sight that Jesus commissioned every believer WITHOUT EXCEPTION to go preach the gospel to the lost, Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15. Every believer is a saint and a priest to God, 1st Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6. This is why trusting in any humanly-appointed priesthood is a fallacy; Jesus abolished the Jewish priesthood, Hebrews 8:13. He did not appoint another elite priesthood from the Apostles; Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to all believers, so He likewise grants the privileges and responsibility of serving as His priests to minister His salvation to a dying world, 2nd Corinthians 5:18-20.

Jesus’ salvation is exclusive and universal; it is freely available to all, regardless of gender, age, religious background, intelligence, etc; yet it is available only through Him. We are not to believe in a church or in a particular denomination’s capacity to save (no church or cult can save us), but in Jesus Christ and His capacity to save to the uttermost, Hebrews 7:25. When we believe on Him we are adopted into the church, the body of Christ, the fullness of Him who fills all in all, Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22. In this respect the church has no human lord; the spiritual leadership of the universal church is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit, John 16:13-14. All believers are brothers and equals, Matthew 23:8-11. Those who assume the role of teachers and pastors in a local church should do so with a servant attitude (Matthew 23:11-12), and lead not by divine right, but because the Holy Spirit’s influence has given them maturity and knowledge for the edifying of the church. They are competent solely because they acknowledge and accept their inability to bring any spiritual truth or fruit to bear without the Holy Spirit’s power and presence, John 15:5. Without Christ our spiritual life withers into useless weeds; the works of which are doomed to be burned, John 15:6.

Can a denomination save? If anyone answers this in the affirmative, even partially, they are preaching another gospel which is condemned of God, Galatians 1:8. The institution is confusing the gospel message; I have witnessed house churches springing up to answer the need for the Bible clearly proclaimed in an uncompromising and unapologetic way. I have friends who have been participants in church splits which hurt badly; many will no longer attend a church for such reasons. I have known others (my own wife being one for a spell) who were so confused by the mass of church denominations that they were frightened away from even looking. “How could they possibly have the answer when they are so fractured?” was my wife’s question. It is a fair one.
To be Continued.

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All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.