Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Bones of a Church

I've been following John MacArthurs "Anatomy of a Church" series of lectures/sermons and his descriptions really strike home. Readers will know of my distaste for man-centered churches whose main goal is to worship the human ego, and if you agree with my distaste for the Church of The Human Ego, Dr. John's words are a breath of fresh air. If you disagree, Dr. MacArthur's words are still a breath of fresh air, it's just that you've been sucking stale air. 

The anatomy starts with the support structure, the skeleton. Dr. MacArthur identifies five main bones that are needed to support a church in a Godly, loving way.

Bone #1 - a High View of God. It is imperative that any church that claims to be Christian to view itself as an institution for the glory of God, everything else the church says and does is secondary to that primary purpose. It seems like this is a no-brainer, but if you look at some churches they have programs and workshops to improve yourself, to improve your kids, to improve your marriage. The church has morphed from an institution designed to love and glorify God to a workshop to make you feel better about yourself. We no longer worship God but worship the 'seeker'.

We dragged God off his throne and made him subservient to us, a mystical self-help guru that loves us regardless of what we do and does what we demand. Instead of actually worshiping our creator our worship service has devolved into singing inane songs with all the musical complexity of a door bell containing repetitious lyrics that Jesus forbid us in Matthew 6:7 written to make us feel good about ourselves. So many do not know how to bow down to Jesus, to tremble at the horror of our sins, to thank Him with tears in our eyes for not squashing us like we deserve. 

8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.  (James 4:8-10)
Bone #2 -  The Absolute Authority of Scripture. This bone is joined directly to bone #1, if God is our sole ruler than his word is our law. The bible is constantly under attack; Hollywood movies making a mockery about scripture (Noah), national news readers claiming to be believers preaching that the bible is merely allegory (Bill O'Reilly), we expect non-believers to attack the truth they cannot comprehend but the attacks come from within too. It is when a church attacks the word of God that we need to realize that we are in trouble. Some churches don't like what God has to say about the role of women in the church so they ignore it. Some churches don't like what God has to say about sin, so they ignore it. Some churches don't like what God says about satan and hell, so they ignore it. God is not going to ignore it

In the church fellowship is important, I love that part of the service where we gather together and greet each other, but as Christians we are people of the Word. We must know God's word, we must study God's word, we must live God's word, the absolute priority of God's word is where our hearts must be. If we don't agree with God's word the problem isn't with God, it's with us. You need to get your head straight about what God tells us or you're just wasting your Sunday morning and dragging down people around you.
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" (Matthew 4:4)
Bone #3 - A Sound Doctrine. As Bone #1 is connected to Bone #2, Bone #2 is directly connected to Bone #3. A Sound Doctrine is what we learn when we study God's word. As Dr. MacArthur says; today there is such a fuzzyness, but sermonettes are for Christianettes; cute helpful little things. Meaningless but nice. Designed to make us feel better about ourselves

We need to cast aside the fuzzy feely sermonette and self honoring platitudes that pass for preaching today. Inside God's word is God's Truth, we must dig deep into His word to learn that truth. It is that truth that holds us together as a church, and without it the church would be a jumbled mess. False doctrines would prevail with people running off into different directions, some saying that no one will go to hell, others will be concentrating on fraudulent gifts rather than the actual word of God. Frauds and hucksters could overtake a church and use it for their own profit, but the understanding of solid, biblical doctrine will unite a church and protect the flock from these wolves.
3 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
Bone #4 - A Personal Holiness. We are being vandalized and victimized by a fallen, unholy society. Pastor Joe Schimmel is criticized for documenting the fall of our civilization that's being aided and accelerated by movies and modern music but he's hitting the nail on the head. The battle is real, we are being beset by sewage and slime and every temptation known to man. One of the reasons why I don't like contemporary Christian music (besides being as musically engaging as a throw rug) is that it skitters along the edge of popular music, attracting the performers to the possibilities of fame and money. These are such fierce temptations to many performers, and once the music industry gets their claws into someone they're as good as lost.

I've been around the world a few times, hung out with the coarsest men you'd ever meet, I've planned and practiced to blow up a good percentage of the Planet Earth, and even I am embarrassed at what passes for entertainment. Television is demonic propaganda 24/7, movies not only drill the will of Satan into your head, they also empty your pockets. (And now with the success of "Christian" movies, Satan is going to use that form of entertainment to spread his lies to the undiscerning.) It's a fallen world and only our personal holiness is going to keep us right with the lord
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Bone #5 - Spiritual Authority. The church must understand that there is a hierarchy of authority over people in the church and the head of that authority is Jesus Christ. Jesus mediates His rule through godly elders who have rule over the flock as outlined in the Bible. The elder is a leader in the Christian church.  It is a divinely appointed office that is held by men who are able to teach sound doctrine, refute error, be of good reputation, having believing children, who manage their households well, etc.  The elder should not be in office if he is unable to fulfill the requirements of the office and he should not be chosen simply because he is a popular figure in the local church.

I've heard that some churches don't like the idea of elders. To them I say one word. "Titus":
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:5-9)

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