Posts Tagged ‘Word’

Church Problems

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Blog
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In the last post I considered the Westminster Confession of Faith, and C.H. Spurgeon’s threefold critique of the church. The WCF presented the church as always on the earth to worship God, and the church will be imperfect until glorification at Christ’s return. Spurgeon posited that the three major problems he dealt with in the church were lovelessness toward God, each other, and the lost.

The problem of the church being arranged into these groupings is that in some way there is a failure to recognize that her problems are as myriad and pronounced as there are members of the body. Meaning that the problem of the church is the people. The ministry would be great if it wasn’t for the people! Don’t get distracted by a stupid pastoral pun. It’s equally true that pastors are the problem, because they are part of the church, and are themselves people.

The church is the bride of Christ who is flawed, but who gathers for the sake of worshiping in Spirit and in Truth. This corporate worship exists for many important purposes, one of which is consecration, meaning that gathered followers of Christ are being transformed from one degree of glory to another, in turn bringing glory to Christ. We gather to grow as a corporate whole, and individually; we gather for the glory of Christ; we gather as the redeemed who are not yet glorified; we gather as the imperfect & flawed bride, whom Christ accepted and loved.

This imperfect gathering of Christ followers looks to the hope of future perfection reveling in the promise of heavenly glory. We seek to mature in Christ, build one another up in love, for the glory of Christ.

It is much easier to point out the problems of the church rather than deal with your own issues. Really, who wants to gather with the church to hear about their faults? Gatherings in Christ are  not for the sake of paying penance or expiation for weekly misdeeds. Nor is it for the sake of merely gaining information. An important purpose in gathering is for hearing the Word of God preached, by which the aroma of life creeps into the dark caverns of life exposing darkness to the light. If in Christ wereceive the Word of God meekly implanted it will save our souls, (James 1:21) purifying the spotless bride of Christ, (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Over the next few weeks we will examine our imperfections, taking time to think biblically about the flaws of the church: a want of love to one another; a want of love to souls; and a want of love to Jesus Christ.

The Church and Her Problems

Posted: November 30, 2017 in Blog
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I think there are three great faults in the Church of God at large, as a body, from which those who are in Heaven are entirely free. Those three are,—a want of love to one another; a want of love to souls; and a want of love to Jesus Christ.” These are the words of C.H. Spurgeon, in a message he delivered, The Faultless Assembly on the evening of December 18th, 1853.

Quotefancy-2185556-3840x2160Eighteen hundred years after the church began these faults existed, as they did when the church was first formed, and they still exist to this day. The faultless church will only exist in glory. Ironically, in light of modern insistence to the contrary, the problems inherent within the church have remained the same through every generation of the church, as has the condition of mankind; there is nothing new under the sun. Even a cursory view of the New Testament will reveal all manner of conflict, correction of error, and great imperfection that arose in the early church. The obvious problems of today are no different from then, and the Word of God is timeless and applicable across every generation. It is a shortsighted-romantic-ideal to think that the early church was nothing but tongues of fire, all night prayer meetings, and massive crowds converted to Christ.

The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “The… Church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less, visible. And particular Churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.” (25.4) “The purest Churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error: and some have so degenerated as to become apparently no Churches of Christ. Nevertheless, there shall be always a Church on earth, to worship God according to his will.” (25.5)

Gathering with the church should not serve the purpose of blown smoke up our backside, so that we might feel better about ourselves. The church gathers around God’s Word and when that happened the Word pierces, divides, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Effectively the gospel being preached steps on toes and ruffles feathers. The church needs that, and the true church longs for that.

Of course gathering with the church to hear about your faults is not listed on anyone’s bucket list. Guaranteed no one writes, “go to church to expose my faults” on their to do list. Yet there is something satisfying in hearing the Word of God preached, as a follower of Christ, where the aroma of life creeps into the dark caverns of our lives and exposes the darkness to the light. If we are but willing in Christ to receive the Word of God meekly implanted it will save our very souls, (James 1:21) forming us into the spotless bride of Christ, (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Years ago I read a book by Don Whitney called the Spiritual Disciplines. This book was given to me through the church I was attending–it was awesome to say the least. The book was not terribly engaging from a reading standpoint, but the content was excellent.

This book introduced to me for the first time the idea of exercising spiritual discipline. Discipline in diet, exercise, along with other areas was not foreign to me. The concept of being spiritually disciplined seemed to remove some of the mystical ideas I possessed regarding the Christian life. The removal of these ideas was good, as pursuit of Jesus is not simply jumping from one mystical and emotional experience to another. Following Jesus Christ is supernatural and it is to be a daily experience through the Word, prayer, and fellowship with the saints, while seeking to do His will. Through the spiritual disciplines my heart became focused upon Jesus and the glorious grace of God like never before.

Essentially, spiritual disciplines are the disciplined routine of reading Scripture, studying Scripture, praying and journaling all in an effort to seek God; just to name a few. (If you want a more thorough treatment of the topic I suggest purchasing and reading Whitney’s book). However, with the praise of discipline comes the pitfalls of discipline. Cultivation of sterile and heartless devotion whereby one thinks they are close with God because of their disciplined life can be a result. I must admit I have fallen into that sterile routine at times.

So, do we then abandon the spiritual disciplines? May it never be. If I have abandoned the mystical-spiritual-experiential side of things, because they are a trapping, then why not abandon the trappings of discipline? First, let me note that I have not abandon seeking to experience God in supernatural ways. In all of these things, mystical experience and spiritual discipline, it must be remembered that they are to be held in proper relationship to the Word of God. I do not abandon the supernatural experience with my Savior, but I seek to have it defined through what He has revealed, rather than what I presuppose or even have culturally absorbed. I also do not abandon the spiritual disciplines because of my cold-heart. The problem with spiritual disciplines, the same as for seeking to experience the mystical, is the heart of man in relation to these things and not the instruments themselves. My problem is me and not discipline.

Scripture is replete with ideas that require an active daily pursuit of the things of God, (i.e. spiritual disciplines). Do not be lax in the things of God, but if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts. Seek God why it is still today. Listen to the voice of God while it is speaking loudly. Where do we hear his voice most clearly? In the Bible. Those who are followers of Christ must actively consider Jesus, keeping their eyes upon Him alone, listening to and obeying His Word, (cf. Heb 3). Brothers, those who share in the heavenly calling, discipline your hearts in prayer, in the Word, in fellowship. When your heart grows cold, do the hard work of heart work and repent for the forgiveness of sin.