Arminian Today

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What is Church?

The Lord’s Day.  Millions of people will head off to church today.  They will pack into their buildings, their gyms, their rented facilities, a few in houses.  They will sit and listen to a band play various types of music ranging from contemporary (rock) to classical.  They will listen to a lecture (sermon).  They will be asked to give money.  They will shake hands with a few people and some will even pray for a few people.  And then they will go home.  Church is over for almost all of them.

Yet is that the picture of the New Testament Church?  First of all, you won’t find the buildings.  I am all for house churches because the house church can move quickly, doesn’t pay a dime to rent or a bank, has no utility bills, and can be very flexible with where they meet whether in a home or a park.  Secondly, the building shouts “show” or “event” more than church.  The structure of modern church buildings is focused on one thing: the stage.  The people (laity) stare at the stage and watch the show called church.  This not found in the New Testament.  The Apostles wanted people to focus on Jesus Christ and give Him all the glory.  Modern healing evangelists love to parade their “healings” while the Apostles focused completely on the Lord and His power (Acts 3).

In the New Testament we find 52 “one another” passages of Scripture.  How can the modern church even begin on Sunday morning to obey those passages?  I know some who defend the modern church will say that small groups, cell groups, Sunday school, or other discipleship methods are the way to obey those passages.  But is that honestly what the church is about?  3/4 of the people who attend a Sunday morning church “service” will not be in a small group or under discipleship.  Most come to church and think that is enough and frankly, they have been told that is true.  As long as they are giving their money to the local church, most churches don’t concern themselves with that person during the week.  They are free to do what they like.  The New Testament Church was daily meeting (Acts 2:46).  They were not relegated to only the Lord’s Day to come together to break bread.  They met daily and were small enough to do so because they met in homes primarily (Colossians 4:15; cf. Romans 16:5). They had no large edifices that they called “church” (for that would have been illegal and would defeated their purpose).

The Church is not a meeting place.  It is not a house.  It is not a building.  It is not a denomination.  The Church is composed of true disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26) who take up their crosses daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-25).  The Church is composed of true disciples who have been baptized into Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).  The Church has structure (Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Timothy 3:1-7) but no where in the New Testament do we find one person leading the Church (the lead pastor).  The Church always had a plurality of leaders in the New Testament (Acts 20:17; Titus 1:5).  The Church submits to the Lordship of the Holy Spirit to lead her and guide her through the Scriptures (Acts 13:1-3).  Jesus is Lord of His Church and not any flesh (Colossians 1:15-20).

The Church does not exist to worship God as a primary function.  Worship is a lifestyle (Hebrews 12:1-2).  The Church exists to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry and to edify the saints as they go out into the world to make disciples.  1 Corinthians 14 is clear that edification is the focus of the disciples when they come together.  Certainly the Church does worship God in singing, prayer, the Word, etc. but the main focus is edification (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-26).  Oddly, at least to us, the New Testament disciples met to celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a sign of His resurrection and hope that He would return (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).  However, no where does the New Testament present preaching as the primary purpose of coming together.  In fact, 1 Corinthians 14:26 would destroy the modern church view that preaching or hearing one person speak to us is the main reason that we meet.  You’ll find no superstars in the New Testament meetings (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

A book I do recommend that you read about the New Testament Church and how we today practice church is, The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchmen Nee.  Nee is not perfect in his theology but he is right on in this book on the Church.  How unfortunate that we are so far removed from the New Testament practice of Church that we know nothing of the modern errors of the modern Church.  I pray that God will reform and restore His Church as He is doing all over the world for His glory.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/15/2012 at 10:48 AM

7 Responses

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  1. I agree with everything you said, brother. But right now the home church movement is made of of mostly anti-establishment types. Consequently, not many Christians come to the home church movement for the right the reasons and if they do they are soon turned off by the lack of substance. So home churches do not experience much growth. Then people like you and I who have children are inclined to go to the buildings to provide a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for our children. I also feel that Calvinism has such a stronghold on our community that I also feel inclined to reach more people with biblical doctrine. This leads me to desire to move our home fellowship to a building where we could reach more people who are not looking to rebel, but are looking for a pure church. I am not sure what the answer is.

    Rj Sauvageau

    01/15/2012 at 11:32 AM

    • I agree brother. I am working on a piece about that very thing and the errors I see in the house churches. Not all are bad but so few are seeking to be biblical and so many have become places only for angry Christians or wacky Christians with an agenda. We need a move of God.

  2. What kind of church do you attend?


    01/15/2012 at 3:26 PM

    • Right now I am home churchless apart from our Midweek home bible study. My biggest problem with churches is calvinism, word faith or just plain lukewarm Christianity.

      Rj Sauvageau

      01/15/2012 at 4:11 PM

      • By the way I purcahsed The Dark Side of Calvinism; CREEPY !


        01/16/2012 at 10:03 AM

      • Bryson does a nice job

        Rj Sauvageau

        01/16/2012 at 10:12 AM

  3. I understand these concern with the modern church. I, too, think the church has lost its transformative power, but it goes back to the root of the teachings that seem to be forgotten. It’s that cross you mentioned that must be picked up not only every day, but every moment of every day.

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