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Archive for July, 2008

The Church…

Have you considered what the church is?

 

The more I consider the meaning and the significance of what it means to be included in both the invisible church of God and the visible church the more important it has become to belong to church that does church the right way.  As a Protestant, we of course would draw a distinction between the edifice we call the church and the people we call the church.  I remember a conversation I had close to fifteen years ago with a gentleman who had been nearly ordained as a Roman Catholic priest, he said:

“You Christians do not even have a proper church… you don’t even need a building to have a church service, yet you call yourselves a church?  We have churches.  We have the buildings in which we perform the mass.  All you need is a tent and some chairs and you call that a church”.

Even though I was a very young Christian at the time, all that I remember saying was, “Amen”.  

Of course the church is more than building it is the people.  But what is the purpose and the reason to have a church service? Why do we as believers of the one true God need to assemble?  It is now possible to sit at my desk in pajamas with a cup of coffee while listening to the morning service at the mega-church of my choice.  That somehow doesn’t seem to fit in with what the Bible tells us of these assemblies and what they were for.  

I seem to have more questions than answers…

Is the church service only meant for the believer?

Should a non-believer participate in singing worship songs?

Is the service meant to evangelize to the lost or teach the sheep?

How should we dress?

How often to have communion?

How should the pastor present the word of God, through stories and jokes?  

Should the message be dumbed down?

Should offensive or hard passages no longer be read from the pulpit?

Should we have a pulpit?

Should the worship music be about a great performance rather leading the people in the worship of God?

How loud is too loud when it comes to worship?

Can the pastor really know all of his flock?

Is a big church bad for true believer?

Is it really possible for a church to start in the shallow end and more than ten years later be even shallower than when it first started?

All comments and additional questions welcome.

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How many of you are as guilty as me in saying that Christianity is not religion but a relationship?

But is that true?  Is Christianity more about a personal relationship with God than it is about religion?  The more I read my Bible and the more I learn the less I am am inclined to say that Christianity is a relationship rather than religion.  Many times there is a confusion that arises from the direct relationship that the apostles had with Jesus and the “relationship” we have with Jesus.  We do not have the same tangible Jesus that the apostles had.  We are two thousand years separated from the Judea that Jesus walked in.  He doesn’t come to our parties to turn water into wine, he doesn’t go bass fishing with us and he doesn’t go around healing people and getting the people in power at upset at him.  

 

Jesus is Lord…

Not my homeboy.  There is a great chasm between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus that is being proclaimed in many churches.  In many churches he is presented as a hippie that is all about flowers and peace & love and carrying a lamb over his shoulders.  Worship songs, or those that pass as worship songs turn Jesus into some sappy boyfriend.  He is not my boyfriend, I don’t love him like that.  He is not the guy I go to the movies with or the guy I sit around and smoke a cigar with while cracking jokes and passing gas.  He is not just my savior but my Lord.  God is not an old bearded grandfatherly figure but the Almighty Lord God, creator of all.  

Living in the US, we do not have a real understanding of what it means to have a sovereign lord.  We are pampered, living in this nation, a constitutional republic.  We have never in our short history ever had a king to rule over us.  We Christians sometimes forget about the lordship of Jesus, the deity of Jesus.  The only we can even have a relationship with God that is not one of wrath is through the penal substitution that Christ accomplished at the cross.  The unrepentant sinner is not without a relationship to God, it’s just that his is a relationship of wrath.  If Christ is truly our Lord than everything we have and are must be in subordination to him that bought us.  We want a savior but how many of us truly want a lord?  Even in our regeneration we impugn the truth.  How many who claim to be saved think they gained their salvation by asking Jesus into their heart?  Jesus does not come into our hearts to make us saved, he sits at the right hand of God, reigning in glory.  

 

The only means by which we can have a relationship with God that does not include his wrath is by the work of Christ on the cross.  Jesus never said to repent because he loved you, the apostles never went around converting the gentiles by saying that God had a wonderful plan for their lives, to believe because God loved them.  We come close to God by the dispensing of his word on Sunday, by the partaking of the sacraments and by the water baptism.  We have a copy of his revelation to us, many of us have more than one!  God has limited the means by which we can have a relationship with him, any other way and we may just be piles of dust.  

Personal relationships tend to make a mockery of the objective truth that is the gospel.  To claim a personal relationship is to create your own religion.  This sort of subjectivity leads to unfalsifiable truth claims about what you believe Jesus to be rather than what the Bible says.

Jesus is not your buddy, he is the almighty sovereign LORD.  When we come near to him in prayer or worship we need to be reverent of the work that he willingly accomplished.  He took upon himself the wrath and punishment that he himself demanded in order for us to be in communion with him.  The closer we draw to him, the greater our sin is magnified, the more we should treat our savior and our lord with proper reverence. 

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