Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Church, The Body of Christ

The last two weeks I have spent preaching on the Church being the body of Christ. Since the Apostle Paul compares the Church with that of a physical body in 1 Corinthians 12, we say that in order for the Church to function properly all the parts must work together, just like that of the physical body.
I emphasized faithfulness both in your attendance and in the use, keeping in context with chapter 12, of your spiritual gift. God has sovereignly given each believer atleast one spiritual gift with the command to use that gift for the glory of God and the edification of the body.
Our spiritual gifts are not to be used for the glory of ourselves and they are not to be used anywhere without the sanction of the local Church. If we doubt that truth we need to reread the books of Acts, 1 Corinthians 12, and much of the New Testament. In those passages you will see that the Church is local, not universal and therefore the gifts are to be used in a local Church.
You can certainly excercise your gift outside the Church but not when the body is assembling. If you are a part of a local body, we are commanded by God to be there when the body assembles, Hebrews 10:25.
It would be a violation of Scripture, not to assemble with the body. Let's put this in Paul's terms, would you get up in the morning and leave your foot in bed? Certainly not! But that is exactly what we do when we are not faithful to the body. We can come up with all sorts of justifications for it I guess. Such as when people "minister" when they should be in their local Church. You minister on times and days when your body isn't assembled. Now, I'm not talking about going to other Churches and ministering as God leads, I'm talking about missing consistently in order to "minister", the New Testament has a probelm with that, you have neglected the local body.
We have a gentleman in our Church, Nathan Panther, who felt like God wanted him to start a Bible Study in his home for some local people that live nearby. He has one condition that he told me, "I will not have it during Church times, that would be wrong, I need to be in my Church when it assembles." Amen, Nathan.
Next post I will talk more about the gifts in the body. Just keep in mind, when Gods people neglect asssembling together as the body, the body suffers.

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Friday, July 2, 2010

What Marks a Healthy Church? #1 Biblical Teaching and Preaching

Two Sundays ago I began a new series on “Marks of a Healthy Church” and the first mark that I went over with the congregation was “Biblical Teaching and Preaching”. I gave, by the power of the Spirit, two very “frank” messages on the fact that the Church needs Biblical Preaching and Teaching.

We live in a day where, as the Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4, people, literally in the Greek, “…will not put up with error free preaching, but will heap to themselves teachers who are telling them what they want to hear”.  People today do not want to hear strong Biblical Teaching and Preaching. People today seem to want sermonettes for christianettes, they want enough to ease the conscience that they went to Church, but they cannot tolerate and WILL NOT tolerate strong Biblical preaching.

I thought about some things that people do not want to hear:

1. People do not want to hear about Lordship Salvation- Yes, I am a Lordship Salvation pastor 115%. People do not want to hear about the fact that there must be a surrender of the life to the Lordship of Christ or there is no genuine salvation. This is not works salvation as some have incorrectly accused, this is the heart of the Gospel. Surrender to the Lordship of Christ is a natural outflow of the Spirit of God that lives in the heart of the new believer. Lordship salvation also does not teach that you have every conviction at the moment of your salvation. There is no doubt that people need room and time to grow in their faith, the New Testament is filled with that proof. But what it does teach is that a person recognizes the fact that Jesus is Lord (kurios in the Greek, meaning master), and there is a genuine desire to submit to that lordship. Although we do not also do it, the desire is still present. But people do not want to hear this, because, since these things are true, a lot of people would have to be reclassified whether they are saved or not. People want to make a whole lot of people saved that do not possess biblical faith, because there is no desire to submit to the Lordship of Christ.

2. People do not want to hear about the Sovereignty of God- Sovereignty means that we are out of the picture. Our salvation, our life is not ours; it belongs to Christ. He can do with it what he wants just because He wants and does not have to give us a reason for it. People do not want to hear about this because they want to feel like they have some sort of control, they want to feel like they have had some part in their salvation. But these things are foreign to Scripture. Our lives are all controlled by the Sovereign hand of Almighty God; (cf. Dan. 4:35, Eph 1:11, Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6, Isa. 14:24, Isa. 46:10, Acts 4:28, Proverbs 21:1, Rom. 9:18). There are many more verses that  could be given, but these will suffice. Sovereignty is a blow to human pride and ego, and many people do not want to hear it.

Thankfully, I have a Church and a group of believers that want to hear these hard things. They sit and listen and hang onto every word. This is not me, but the power of the Spirit of God working in these precious people’s hearts. I close this thread with the following text message I received from a Church member after last Sundays Evenings service:

“I just wanted to say thank you for not changing your style of preaching just because of a few people. We (he and his wife) will always be grateful and faithful to your service…Thanks again…”

That makes the ministry worthy it. To see a hand-full of people get it and love it.

Next Mark of a Healthy Church, #2 Faithful Church Members.