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Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine of the Church

The Evolution of the Traditional Pastor

As I have been pondering the seeker church the last two days, I have once again gone back to the infallible Word of God for answers.  What is the Church?  Why does it exist?  Why did God create this thing called Church?  How does the Church take the gospel into the world or should the world come to the Church?  Do we need to create an environment where the world comes to us?

Nearly every seeker church will answer yes to the last question.  We need to create an environment where seekers feel comfortable when they attend our gatherings.  A seeker should not feel uncomfortable around a group of Christians.  They should feel welcomed and invited to come and check out these Christians and their risen Savior.  The church meetings should not full of facts (expository preaching) but with truth they can apply to their lives (topical preaching).  The number one sin of the modern church is that we bore people to death and away from Jesus.  Church should be entertaining and fun.  This is the bottom line for seeker driven, seeker sensitive churches.

And they have the results to prove they are right. Each week they have 10,000 or more people gathering in their seeker churches to prove they are doing church right.  From Willow Creek (25,000) to Saddleback (30,000), to North Point (30,000) – they have the numbers so they are right?

This, of course, is sure pragmatism.  Sadly, there are few elders in the Church today who are taking time to question the theology of these churches nor asking the number one question, “Is this biblical?”  The seeker church is not concerned with that question.  Their bottom line is the large crowds and the thousand of dollars they are taking in every week.  Further, seeker church leaders such as Bill Hybels or Andy Stanley are speaking weekly to thousands of traditional pastors trying to get them to move toward this pragmatic church style where numbers are the issue.  I have sat in pastors meetings and listened to them boast about seeker churches and large they are and when I questioned their theology, the answer was the same: they are running thousands.  We are running under a hundred.  We need help and they can help us.

So rather than being faithful to Jesus and just preaching His Word with an eye on pleasing and honoring Him, traditional pastors begin to labor toward the pragmatism of the seeker church.  They ignore all sound biblically advice.  They ignore expository preaching because it is deemed boring and out of touch with modern hearers.  They begin to read books by Stanley or Warren and other seeker church leaders and are drawn by the power and the numbers.  They begin to preach from a dynamic equivalent translation and ignore serious study of the Word.  They begin to even order sermons from the above seeker teachers and use their series’ to hopefully “attract the crowds.”

The traditional church will soon begin to model their church after the larger seeker church they wish to be.  Here in the southern United States the three main churches people want to be seems to be: North Point Community Church (Atlanta, GA), Elevation Church (Charlotte, NC) and New Spring Community Church (Anderson, SC).  All three are seeker driven, seeker sensitive churches.  All three are topical sermons (series), and all three are led by “cool, hip, and relevant” pastors.  They are sucking the life out of the traditional church.  Expository preaching is being cast aside.  True worship of God is being cast aside for music that just sounds good.  The focus of the Church being on God and His glory and the command of Ephesians 4:11-16 are ignored.  The whole focus seems to be on one issue: the seeker.  The church exists to attract the seekers.

On a side note, the book of Acts is clear that the Church went to the world with the gospel (Acts 1:8).  They were obeying the command of Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:47; John 20:21).  The disciple of Jesus is to make disciples.  Each disciple is to be an ambassador for Christ to the lost world (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  The disciple gathers with other disciples not to primarily worship God since we are to do this at all times (Romans 12:1-2) but we gather to break bread (Acts 2:46) and in the midst of that, to learn the apostle’s doctrines (Acts 2:42).  We learn the apostle’s doctrine from faithful Bible teachers who teach us what the Bible says and what it means (Ephesians 4:11-16).  Hebrews 10:23-25 (NKJV) are some of my favorite passages as it reads:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Notice the purpose for disciples meeting.  It was not to offer a “safe” place for unbelievers.  It was instead to offer a safe place for disciples.  Remember that the writer of Hebrews is writing to people who are considering going back to Judaism from Christianity.  They had seen and heard the suffering of the saints (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).  They would have heard the words of Paul the Apostle in Romans 8:18.  They knew that suffering would come from the gospel (2 Timothy 3:12).  They needed a safe place for disciples to come together to eat (1 Corinthians 11:20) and to hear the apostle’s doctrine.  Their meetings were places to stir them up to love and good works.

In turn, the disciple of Jesus went into the world with the gospel.  Acts records the apostles taking God’s Word to the nations.  Paul could write in Colossians 1:6 that the gospel was bearing fruit in all the world.  It was doing so because disciples of Jesus were going forth into all the nations.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and the gospel was what they were preaching in the nations.

For more information on the biblical teaching on the Church, I recommend the following Kindle books.

Reimagining Church by Frank Viola

House Church – Simple, Strategic, Scriptural  edited by Steve Atkerson

Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur

The Master’s Plan for the Church by John MacArthur

Arminius on the Church of God and of Christ

DISPUTATION L

ON THE CHURCH OF GOD AND OF CHRIST: OR ON THE CHURCH IN GENERAL AFTER THE FALL

I. As, through faith, which is the first part of our duty towards God and Christ, we have obtained the blessings of justification and sanctification from our union and communion with Christ, by which benefits we are, from children of wrath and the slaves of sin, not only constituted the children of God and the servants of righteousness, (on which account it is fit that we should render obedience and worship to our Parent and our Lord,) and as we have likewise obtained power and confidence for the performance of such obedience and worship, it would follow that we should now treat on obedience and worship as on another part of our duty.

II. But as there are multitudes of those who have, through these benefits, been made the sons and the servants of God, and who have been united, among themselves, by the same faith and the Spirit of Christ, as members in one body, which is called the church, and of which the Scriptures make frequent mention, it appears to be the most proper course to treat, First, upon this church, because, as she derives her origin from this faith, she comprehends within her embraces all those to whom the performance of worship to God and Christ is to be prescribed.

III. And as it has pleased God to institute certain signs by which may be sealed or testified, both the communion of believers with Christ and among themselves, and a participation of these benefits, and, on the other hand, their service of gratitude towards God and Christ, we shall deem it proper, NEXT, to treat upon these signs or tokens, before we proceed to the worship, itself, which is due to God and Christ. First, then, let us consider the church.

IV. This word, in its general acceptation, denotes a company or congregation of men who are called out, and not only the act and the command of him who calls them out, but likewise the obedient compliance of those who answer the call; so that the result or effect of that act is included in the word “church. ”

V. But it is thus defined: A company of persons called out from a state of natural life and of sin, by God and Christ, through the Spirit of both, to a supernatural life to be spent according to God and Christ in the knowledge and worship of both, that by a participation with both, they may be eternally blessed, to the glory of God through Christ, and of Christ in God.

VI. The efficient cause of this evocation, or calling out, is God the Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and Christ himself, through the Spirit, both of the Father and of the Son as he is Mediator and the Head of the church, sanctifying and regenerating her to a new life. The impulsive cause is the gracious good pleasure of God the Father, in Christ, and the love of Christ towards those whom he has acquired for himself by his own blood.

VII. The executive cause of this gracious good pleasure of God in Christ, which may also, in this respect, according to its distribution, be called “the administrative cause,” is the Spirit of God and of Christ by the word of both; by which he requires outwardly a life according to God and Christ, with the addition of the promise of a reward and the threatening of a punishment; and he inwardly illuminates the mind to a knowledge of this life, imparts to us the feelings of love and desire for this life, and bestows on the whole man strength and power to live such a life.

VIII. The matter about which [it is occupied], or the object of the vocations, are natural and sinful men, who, indeed, according to nature, are capable of receiving instruction from the Spirit through the word, but who are, according to the life of the present world and the state of sin, darkened in their minds and alienated from the life of God. This state requires that the beginning of preaching be made from preaching the law as it reproves sin and convinces of sin, and thus that progress be made to the preaching of the gospel of grace.

IX. The form of the church resides in the mutual relation of God and Christ who calls, and of the church who obeys that call, according to which, God in Christ, by the Spirit of both, infuses into her supernatural life, feeling or sensation, and motion; and she, on the other hand, being quickened and under the influence of feeling and motion, begins to live and to walk according to godliness, and in expectation of the blessings promised.

X. The end of this evocation, which also contains the chief good of the church, is blessedness perfected and consummated through a union with God in Christ. From this, results the glory of God, who unites the church to himself and beatifies her, which glory is declared in the very act of union and beatification — also the glory of the same blessed God, when the church in her triumphant songs ascribes to him praise, honour and glory forever and ever.

XI. From the act of this evocation and from the form of the church arising out of it, it appears that a distinction must be made among the men or congregation, as they are men, and as they are called out and obey the call; and they must be so distinguished that the company to whom the name of “the church” at any time belonged, may so decline from that obedience as to lose the name of “the church,” God “removing their candlestick out of its place,” and sending a bill of divorce to his disobedient and adulterous wife. Hence it is evident that the glorying of the papists is vain on this point — that the church of Rome cannot err and fall away.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/19/2013 at 5:41 PM

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