A quote for discussion

This evening I finished the book “Jim and Casper Go To Church.” The book relates the insights and observations of an atheist as he and a former pastor visit 10 churches in America. Good read. A quote from the book stood out to me, so I wanted to throw it out there for discussion.

“…what do you think this enlightened, impassioned, and above all, humble carpenter from Galilee would say about Plexiglass dunking tanks, millionaire pastors, camera cranes, and music coming straight out of Branson? Is this what Jesus had in mind for the church?” – Casper, p. 46. Casper later asks Jim a similar question, “Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?”

What do you think?

Being The Church

This morning, I ran through some information about The Church, what it is, and what it should do.  Below is the outline from that message.  If I had time, I would put this up as a typed manuscript of the message.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask away, as this outline is missing the “fillers” of a spoken message!

What is “Church?”
Definition:  “The church is the community of all true believers for all time.”  (Grudem. 853).
i.      “Church” is all Christ has truly redeemed (Eph. 5:25)
ii.     Including OT.  Qahal (assembly) translated most often as ekklesia (church) in The Septuagint.  Hebrews 12:1 surrounded by great cloud of witnesses ties the OT “assembly” with the saints of the NT church.
iii.     Built by Christ (Matt 16:18 & Acts 2:47)

Invisible Yet Visible
i.     Invisible that no one can see the heart (2 Tim 2:19).  It is the church as God sees it.
ii.     Visable that it can be seen by all who profess Jesus.  It is the church as Christians on earth see it.  Paul writes to the visible church, of which there seems to have always been a segment that was not saved but thought they were a part. (2 Tim: Hymenaeus & Philetus, Demas, etc.)  Jesus warned against wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15-16)

Local & Universal:
NT ekklesia – a group believers at any level:
i.    House church – Romans 16, 1 Cor. 1 (Aquila & Prisc)
ii.   A Region – Acts 9:31
iii.  Entire world – Eph 5:25 / 1 Cor. 12:28

Metaphors
1.    Family (Fam: 1 Tim 5:1-2, Bride: Eph. 5:32/2Cor 11:2)
ii.   Common Images (Branches: John 15:5, Olive Tree: Rom. 11-17-24, Field of Crops: 1 Cor. 3:6-9, Harvest: Matt. 13, John 4:35, New Temple:  1 Peter 2:5)
iii.    Unique (Body of Christ: 1 Cor. 12/Eph. 1, 4; Col. 2)

True Church vs. False Church
Luther)  the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administered
Calvin)  wherever we see te Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted a church of God exists
2 elements esteemed by both Luther and Calvin:
i.   Gospel Rightly Taught – salvation is by faith in Christ alone
ii.  Sacraments – symbolic and commemorative rather than meriting favor.

Purpose of The Church
Ministry to God:  Worship
i.     Sing with thankful hearts to God (Col. 3:16) Not just sing ABOUT God with an emotional heart!
ii.     LIVE to the praise of His name (Eph. 1:12)
iii.     It is a means in itself, and not a means to an end.  (Eph. 5: 16-19:  Paul says to make the most of your time & commands us to be filled and singing with all our heart)

Ministry to Believers:  Nurture & Equip
i.     Not just to bring people to faith, but to present everyone mature in Christ (Col 1:28)
ii.     Gifted people Equip the Saints for ministry as a means of building up the body (Eph. 4:12-13)

Ministry To The World:  Evangelism and Mercy
i.     Make disciples of all the world (Matt. 28)
ii.     Care for the poor and needy (Not just those who are thankful (Luke 4:40) & Not just those who might become saved)

The Right Balance:
i.     Is any one purpose more important than the other?  Might we neglect a “lesser purpose” for a more noble purpose?
ii.     For The Church:  The Church MUST balance these 3 purposes or run the risk of not being the Church.
iii.     For it’s True Members:   be true to your gifting and focus where God intends.
iv.     To which purpose of the church do you think you can most effectively contribute?  Which purpose has God placed in your heart a strong desire to fulfill?

Notice that NOWHERE is there room for sitting, soaking, and souring.
When we understand the church, it’s source of strength and our role in it, The Church is an unstoppable force known as a most generous and life giving people, TRULY reflecting The God we say is our reason for being.