Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘State of the Church

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.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/19/2013 at 5:41 PM

Spurgeon’s Warning on Entertainment

Charles Spurgeon wrote the following about the lure of entertainment among the Christians of his day.  Sadly we read his words and we think him too hard, too legalistic.  The modern church is so engrossed with entertainment.  We will come to church meetings if they are fun to us, if they benefit us.  We avoid prayer meetings because oh the boredom.  Too much on TV.  Too much fun playing games on my iPod.  I’ve got more important things to do than to seek God.  I must be entertained.  I pray that we read these words are remember that if your church is “winning” people through gimmicks and through the show you call church services, that is what you win them to.  We are not winning the masses to Christ but to the god of fun.  We are not taking people deep into the heart of God by studying His Word and teaching people how to pray.  With this is gone the passion for Jesus, the loss of zeal for the kingdom of Christ, and no passion for the lost.  Who cares about the sinner going to hell when our favorite program is coming on at 8 PM?  We have time to waste on the Internet but we have no time to pray?

Let us weep with Spurgeon’s words:

If our church members fall into the habit of frequenting the theatre, we shall soon have them going much further in the direction of vice, and they will lose all relish for the ways of God. If theatre-going became general among professing Christians, it would be the death of piety. Yet one finds the taste for such things increasing on every hand.

We cannot even enter places once dedicated to science and art without finding ourselves in the presence of something like a theatrical performance. Such gimmickry, though in itself harmless enough, has helped foster the taste which leads ultimately to the theatre and its surroundings.

Who can suppose amusements surrounded with the seductions of vice to be fit recreation for a pure mind? Who could draw near to God after sitting to admire the performances of the debauched (and I am told that some who have dazzled London society are such)?

When behaviour is growing every day more lax and licentious, shall believers lower the standard of their lives? If they do so their spiritual power will depart, and their reason for existence will be over. If there ever could be a time when Christians might relax their rigidity, it surely is not now when the very air is tainted with pollution, and when our streets ring with the newsboys’ cries vending filthy papers.

It is profoundly saddening to hear how people talk about acts of sin nowadays; how young men and women without blushing talk of deeds which deprave and destroy, as though they were trifles, or themes for joking. It is a great pity that the ends of justice should require the publishing of unsavoury details. As for those who not only commit lewdness, but who take pleasure in those who do it—”O my soul, come not thou into their secret.” My heart often cries, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.”

It will certainly be disastrous for the church of God if her members should become impure. In these days we must be doubly strict, lest any looseness of conduct should come in among us. Actual sin must be repressed with a strong hand, but even the appearance of evil must be avoided.

My dear brethren and sisters, whatever your deficiencies, be pure in heart and lip and life. Never indulge an evil imagination, or speak about things which are unclean. Let them not once be named among you, as becometh saints. A lascivious glance, a doubtful word, a questionable act must be strenuously avoided. Anything and everything that verges upon the unchaste must be rejected.

Only the pure in heart shall see God. We are all subject to human passions, and this wretched flesh of ours is too easily fascinated by those who would pander to its indulgences. In seconds the soul may be led into captivity. Watch unto prayer, especially in these evil days. Cry, “Lead us not into temptation,” and if the prayer is sincere, you will also keep far from doubtful places. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look upon that which pollutes, and stop your ears from hearing about it. Watch your lips lest they spread corruption when speaking of sin. I am not afraid that you will step directly into gross sin, but that you may take a very small step on the road that leads to it. Then it will only be a matter of time.

Augustine tells a story of a young friend of his who had the greatest horror of everything connected with the Roman amphitheatre. A heathen friend tried to persuade him to enter the Colosseum, and as he was very hard pressed and was under some obligation to that friend, he agreed to go just once, but determined to keep his eyes and ears closed all the time. It would seem to be a very small risk to sit there as one who was blind and deaf, but in the middle of the sports the people so loudly applauded a certain gladiator who had pleased them that he opened his eyes and ears to discover what it was all about. From that moment he was spellbound; he looked on, and enjoyed the sight, and though before he could not bear the very mention of it, he came at last to be a regular frequenter of the cruel sports, and a defender of them, and after a short time he abandoned his profession of Christianity.

Beware of the leaven of worldly pleasure, for its working is silent but sure, and a little of it will leaven the whole lump. Keep up the distinction between a Christian and an unbeliever and make it clearer every day.

Oh come out from among them church!  2 Corinthians 6:16-17 (KJV) reads:

16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/05/2013 at 5:20 PM

The Community Church Or Cool Church Name Phases

Not all “Community Church” churches are bad.  I want to begin there.  There have been many good churches that were community churches but I do want to rant a bit about cool church names and where did the phenomenon of community churches come from.  When I was first saved in 1992, most churches were easy to identify.  My friends went to Temple Baptist Church or Beulah Baptist Church whereas I went to Trinity Assembly of God.  One of my good buddies went to First Church of God (Anderson, IN) while another friend of mine went to West Columbia Bible Fellowship (loosely following Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and Dr. Tony Evans).  In college, my classmates attended churches such as Shandon Baptist Church or Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (PCA) or Christian Life Assembly (AG).

And then the seeker churches came.  First there was the mother of all seeker churches, Willow Creek Community Church and the craze was on.  When Rick Warren released his book, The Purpose Driven Church, churches begin to follow his pattern and name their churches like his, Saddleback Community Church.  The “community church” phase was on.  It didn’t matter if you were Baptist or Lutheran or Assemblies of God, you dropped the name of the denomination in favor of a hidden church, a welcoming church without all the denominational ties.  The church I was saved at, Trinity Assembly of God, became simply, Trinity Church.  In fact, in 1992 the following were the names of the Assembly of God churches in my area:

  • Christian Life Assembly
  • Trinity Assembly
  • Central Assembly of God
  • South Congaree Assembly of God
  • Airport Assembly of God
  • Capital City Assembly of God
  • Northeast Christian Assembly of God
  • New Life Assembly of God

Now let me give you the names of those same churches today:

  • Christian Life Church
  • Trinity Church (East Campus)
  • Central Assembly of God
  • South Congaree Assembly of God
  • Trinity Church (West Campus)
  • Capital City Church
  • Vive Church
  • New Life Community Church

Do you see a trend?

Now the explanation would be that denominations often hinder people from visiting a church.  For instance, a Baptist is likely not to visit an Assembly of God church but they would visit simply a church.  In fact, it might take a bit to actually realize that you are in a Pentecostal church in some of these cases.  When I was first saved, we had a charismatic Southern Baptist church named Forest Drive Baptist Church.  People would visit Forest Drive BC and would often get confused as the heard people speaking in tongues, laying hands on the sick, etc.  Today that same church is named: NorthStar Christian Center.  I believe they left the SBC a number of years ago now.  Either way, the days of denominational tags is gone it seems.

This is not all bad.  After all, Charles Spurgeon’s church was Metropolitan Tabernacle in London and it was, at the time of Spurgeon, the largest evangelical church in the world.  It was a Baptist church but without the Baptist title in the name.  Other famous churches that are without denominational tags but preaching the gospel would be Dr. John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church or Carter Conlon’s Times Square Church.  Neither have Baptist or Pentecostal in their names but both are sound churches.

Yet the phase seems to have really caught on.  The move today is to be a cool name such as Hydro Church, Elevation Church, New Spring Church, Solomon’s Porch, The Potter’s House, Electric Church, Friend Church, etc (all these are real names by the way).  Today’s churches are either just name with church such as Trinity Church or a cool name such as The Plank or a community church such as Wellspring Community Church.  I would like to see a church named “The Only True Church” or “NIV Only Church” or “Seeker Church” or “Confused Church.”

I know I can hear you saying, “What is the big deal?  Who cares what the name of the church is so long as the gospel is being preached?”  I would agree.  And yet I fear that much of the move toward these names has to do more with chasing a method above the gospel.  Sadly, most churches today seem to be driven by money and not the glory of God.  Money makes the church go round and round.  Money means more clergy.  Money means more programs and better equipment.  Money means bigger and better programs than the church down the street.  In my city, we have thousands of churches.  They are all sadly competing with one another for the same several thousand people (despite the fact that thousands upon thousands are unmoved by the titles of the churches or by their programs).  This church down the street is trying to out do that church down the street and so forth and so on.  Money is the goal.

Now this is not true of all.  Again, I am being general here.  Yet I fear that the emphasis is not on the gospel.  If the gospel were the focus, who cares about the name?  Why drop your denomination tag if in fact you are boldly preaching the gospel?  Why go from Northeast Christian Assembly of God to Vive Church?

Thankfully Jesus only has one church.  He is building it and no clergy or denomination can stop that (Matthew 16:18).  Jesus is adding to His Church (Acts 2:47).  Our passion must never be for a church but for the Lord who is Lord of His Church (Colossians 1:15-20).  The true Church is hated by the world (John 15:18-25).  The true Church is not seeking popularity but the prize of Christ (Philippians 3:14-15).  Leonard Ravenhill said, “The early Church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

A.W. Tozer wrote,

It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments. This has influenced the whole pattern of church life, and even brought into being a new type of church architecture, designed to house the golden calf. So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped-candy technique has been so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Any objection to the carryings on of our present gold-calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, “But we are winning them!” And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world’s treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total committal to Christ? Of course the answer to all these questions is no.

May we get back to loving Jesus and preaching His truth no matter what it cost us.  There are some out there doing this but of far too many are so shallow, so full of hype, and so little with the power and presence of God.  Perhaps we should just name the next church: Ichabod Church (1 Samuel 4:21-22).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/05/2013 at 12:38 PM

Much of the Modern Church

Here is a picture that pretty much sums up what I hear from many of the modern Western churches these days.  How we need to pray for the Lord to send a revival of His Word, His true salvation through His Son, and the fire of the Spirit to burn in the hearts of disciples of Jesus once again as in days of old.  Oh how we need Jesus to move among us (Revelation 1:12-13)!

The Modern Church

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/06/2011 at 4:57 PM

What Does This Have To Do With The Gospel?

I am not much on Christian music and its sad when my son’s picture Bible has deeper theology in it than “family friendly” radio does but I do try, at times, to listen to Christian radio hoping and praying that God will send a move of His Spirit upon them and they return to being passionate for souls and for the glory of God (Acts 3:19).  However, I heard two songs back to back yesterday and asked the question at the end of both of them, “What in the world were they singing about and what does these songs have to do with the gospel?”  Perhaps someone out there can explain the songs to me because frankly they made no sense to me.  If you had told me they were about dating or about loving someone other than God, I would have said okay but my guess is that since they were being played on “family friendly” radio they are supposed to be about the Lord.

You can find the songs here and here.

The problem with “Christian music” is that its an inch deep and an inch wide as well.  It’s just not good to me.  Gone is the passion of a Keith Green or the passionate singing of a Second Chapter of Acts.  Where is the zeal for souls like we saw in Steve Camp or in Love Song?  Where is the theology?  We have moved from loving and fearing God to dating God.

I do pray that Christian radio would move from “family friendly” to “God-fearing.”  I pray that a zeal for God and His glory would sweep Nashville and clean out the so-called Christian music industry.  Is there not a part of the Church that doesn’t need a touch from God?  Oh how we need to pray for revival!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/23/2011 at 10:36 AM

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