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Tuesday, 31 December 2013 22:00

What In The World!?!

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What in the world is: Church?

It is instructive to note that the question is not: 

  • What in the world is a Church

The question is trying to address the question of:

  • What in the world  is “Church?” 

Society  Has An  Answer

Again, please note that the question is not: “What is a Church”

ChurchWhen  this question is is put to the average member of modern society, the reply usually is : Church is a building that I go to on Sunday. This type of  answer comes from the perception and the evaluation of the Christian presence in society, in local communities.

How Would A Christian Answer This Question?  

Church may be defined as a community of  people who have experienced being  born again.  Because of the experience of being born again, they have committed themselves to following the leadership of Christ. How this question is answered  will reveal where one is in the life walk on earth.

The state Of Or Condition Of  The Church In The 21th Century

Modern society, in the 21th century usually fronts an attitude toward the church  that results in the church being: 

  • Ignored
  • Criticized
  • Shoved aside
  • Belittled

The Church Is Not Taken Seriously In This Age

The general feeling  among society that there is really no need for organized religion. Yes, it is a nice place to have a wedding, to have birthday parties, to keep retired people busy with busy work, to enjoy community activities, but really there is no need  for something that has become obsolete and dated. One bright spot in their attitude is that it is a handy building to have around.

What About The Worship Of God?

The reasoning goes something like this:After all God can be worshiped without all that clutter. The worship of God is a private and internal thing. Not something to waste time and money on. It is between Me and God.  

What This Attitude Illustrates

This attitude demonstrates  Man’s independent, rebellious, unrepentant  spirit.  This spiritual attitude  is evident  at various  times and stages in a lifetime. This  attitude Attitudedemonstrates what is important to  man who has not repented and turned over control of  life to God.  This attitude  indicates a belief  that worship can be done on their own in isolation. This attitude fosters the belief that worship can be practiced apart from others. After all, the reasoning goes, worship is a private and personal act. This  comes from wanting to make excuses for behavior that deep down inside, the  person knows  is wrong but is unwilling to make changes.

What Does Society Think It Takes To Become A Member Of The Church?

The concept  of church membership  has become simply: “Believing in Jesus.”  This concept does not include turning over the control of one’s life to Jesus. “Believing in Jesus is simply the intellectual acceptance of the existence of Jesus. Nothing more.  Even the devils have an intellectual acceptance of Jesus and shudder.

Christians hold that belief in Christ  is more than just  intellectual  acceptance; Rather it is total commitment to Him and His message.  I know a 82 year old man who has for an entire lifetime has led a life that illustrates a complete disregard for God’s control of his life. He is  a “nice” man.  He gets along with everyone.  He is full of stories and interesting episodes that has happened to him. He does not beat his wife. His grandchildren love him. When asked about his relationship to God, he replies :” Oh yes I believe in Jesus”. “I know Jesus existed because of history books.” I even read prayers out loud when my wife hands me the prayer book.  

Sources Of Trouble For Churches

Modern 21th century society has almost no regard for the traditional local church. Having no regard for the church means that  the church can be taken or left. Take It or leave it, it makes no difference, especially in the governance of the nation. Strange as it may seem to an onlooker, the opposition to true Christianity almost always has come from “religious” people. If Billy Graham can be quoted here, he said once that “Religion is like the flu shot, it keeps you from getting the real thing.” In that context, because of the  religious insiders actions, the church has been rendered impotent and harmless in the eyes of many.

Religious Insiders

There are people who are considered “Religious Insiders”  These religious insiders are subject to many emotions that  seem to be driving their existence. The emotions experienced by these religious figures are explained by a lack of genuine personal relationship with Jesus.   A few of the trademark  emotions are listed here:

Indication Of Opposition To Leadership Of The Holy Spirit

When a individual is found to be in control by such attitudes, it indicates the degree of opposition to the leadership of the Holy Spirit they suffer from. The  results of these attitudes can cumulate anarchy and lawlessness. These attitudes are sometimes seen by the outsider as  "organized religion" instead of what it really is.

Causes Of These Attitudes

These attitudes are usually defensive and develop because the person feel that their needs are not being met by the local church. These persons are seeking spiritual care and comfort; of which, they felt they never received. They feel that there is no outreach from the church to them and their problems. In other words, these are the “hurting people” of the world. They are seeking something from the church can not provide. The care and comfort these individuals are seeking must come through a personal relationship with Christ. These hurting people are often being shoved aside by the society they live in. They  are often left to their own resources and have nothing they can depend on. From this they have the perception that the local church as:

  • Uncaring
  • Unloving
  • Unworthy

The Perception

They perceive the local church simply as an extension of society. They are seeking something that the church can not act as a substitute for. Instead, they should be seeking a personal relationship with Christ.

With this view of organized religion,the attitude develops to have nothing to do with Church.  If they do get in a local church, they operate at cross purposes to it.

Accountability And Excuses

No one likes to be held accountable;That is, to have blame placed on themselves  for wrongdoing . When a person has no room for  accountability in their life, it indicate a balant self centeredness. The results in not wanting accountability. Not the  type of accountability that comes from church  membership.

The Role Of Education

As part of a church program, education is an indispensable part of spreading the  Gospel. Education of the members of the church must include what is expected of them as members. The educational program should make it clear to them the nature and importance of their membership in and to the local church.

In the past, some churches have  contributed to * this attitude* by  teaching that the Bible does  not endorse  church membership.  Of course this teaching gives some individual the excuse  they need to stay away.

Not The Truth

This is not the truth that the Bible teaches. The Biblical teaching on the Church shows that  Christ established the church. The Bible shows how Christ  died for the church. The Bible shows that  Christ loves the church. The Bible  teaches  that Christians should join themselves to local churches. The Christian should take part in the local church. The church is a picture of a gathered community devoted to spreading the good news.

Clear Points About The Church

The Bible is clear on the points it makes. The  church is to have a local place  to meet.These local places of worship are for communities of believers. A community is as association, center, neighborhood, a place of like minded people. The local church is all these.

Church Formation In The Book Of Acts

In Acts 2, 3000 people converted to faith in Christ.1

Churches were formed.

The church is  meeting of a community of like-minded believers. These like-minded  believers have a purpose. There is nothing casual about these meetings. They have focus.  The focus is on the good news. The people in these meetings have a shared life in Christ and in His work here on earth. These meetings can be called Christian fellowshipping.

They are characterized by:

  • Intimacy
  • Togetherness
  • Closeness
  • Led By The Holy Spirit

The  goal of the Church for it’s members is  service to Christ. This goal embraces the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  The Church is literally  the Body of Christ. The church is an intimate fellowship that exists for the benefit of all members. 2

The Body Of Christ

From  reading of 1 Corinthians 12 one can see that  each and every committed Christian has/is given at least one spiritual gift.  Many have more. These spiritual gifts were/are given  for the  mutual benefit and care of the whole church. Every member is gifted. These gifts from God  are needed, wanted and valued. Every individual member is valued and needed.

The Members Of The Church Are The Body Of Christ

The members of the church are needy. They need  nurture.  They need growth in Christ. The Body of Christ is healthy if and only if  each member is healthy. The Body of Christ is healthy when each and every  member is in position to contribute spiritual gifts for goodness of all. A person cannot be a Christian in isolation.Going further than that, can it be said that there is no such thing as a Christian in isolation? Maybe yes. Keep in mind that  the church is a community in the truest sense of the word. Is it not true that each member of the community is under a commitment to Christ?

Yes. Is it not true that each member is under a commitment to the Church? yes. Is it not true that each member is under a commitment to the needs of one another? yes.  Mutual commitment must exist for all.

Requirement For Membership

The Church Is Comprised of Baptized Believers. There is no way you can get around this fact. A person cannot claim church  membership and refuse baptism.3

Baptism is not a voluntary act, it is commanded of believers.  

The Work Is Laid Out For The Church

The  Church has its work  laid out for it. The church must get going, now. There cannot be any fooling around. Time is short and souls are precious. The church must produce disciples, now. Those in discipleship must be  baptised, now. Being a baptised disciple implies a component of education. This education must take place, now. Not tomorrow. Not next week or next year. Now is the time. These are immediate tasks.  This  are the core of the tasks before the church.

The church is to make disciples and  baptize those  disciples. Baptism symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is public confession of faith by the individual. By doing so, a person  is formally committing  to being  one of and with  Jesus. Baptism is  the Christian's first act of obedience. Membership in a local church requires baptism.

Christians are the only members of the  local church. You can't just "join" a church The church is a gathered community of those who have become disciples of Jesus. Membership requires obedience to Christ.In the great commission, He commanded baptism.4

The Special Required Sequence Of Events

This is the sequence. First, the word was heard. Then belief comes. Belief in this context is to have faith in, rely upon, turn control of one’s life completely to Christ. This is the Good News. Salvations comes from and through Christ. Followed by baptism. Then membership  in the local church, made members. being  added to the church. It follows that the church is made up of of baptized believers.

Next installment:

  • Church leadership
  • Job descriptions
  • requirement for membership
  • Marks of a church and more

Notes

  1. 1 Corinthians 12
  2. Acts 2
  3. Matt 28:16-20
  4. Acts 2:40-41
Read 992 times Last modified on Sunday, 15 June 2014 13:25

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